Use too many of them and they lead you down the wrong path; they promise to make things easier, but can destroy you and your work; and when people see that you are using them too often, they will just roll their eyes and turn away. Cliches are a threat to any good content.
Okay, admittedly this was a bit overdramatic, but it’s true that cliches are a dangerous tool that, when used incorrectly, can drive readers away from what it is that you want to tell them, regardless of how captivating your writing style might be. It’s for this reason that the hate for the cliche exists, and why it’s so common that writers are expected to avoid cliches like the plague – because, just like you’ll notice with that cliche there, such phrases stand out as being lazy or unimaginative.
But in truth a stellar content creator should think of cliches as feisty stallions; they are better to be left alone but when considering their use, a little bit of taming can make even the most tiring of cliches the special spice that your text needs.
The Problem With Cliches
Content creators are commonly writing articles where the general topic or included information is similar to a previous one, and it’s easy in these cases for writers – however professional they may be – to fall into the trap of using a cliche.
But what exactly is a cliche? To put it simply, they are words or phrases that have over time become so overused to have lost their original impact or meaning. Not only does this loss of significance come across as lazy writing, but this lack of value often means such phrases are reduced to little more than filler text that can overcrowd an article without adding anything to it. In these cases the writer won’t be seen as witty but as unimaginative and from that point on, no matter how useful or interesting the writing’s subject is, the reader will assume a lack of knowledge, credibility, and could even become bored because of a use of cliches.
How to Avoid Sounding Too Cliched
Since writing of any kind is an art, writers should be looking to create compelling stories in both conventional and unconventional ways and avoiding or tweaking cliches is definitely for the better in this regard. But how exactly should that be done?
Know Thy Cliches
‘Know your enemy’ is a well-known idiom, but ironically it’s also the best way of approaching cliche use head on. Common cliches like ‘easy as pie’, ‘a win-win situation’, or ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ can easily be spotted due to their immediately familiarity. These low-grade cliches usually don’t cause that much problem if they are used correctly, but it’s still better to avoid their use completely – especially if their real use has lost all meaning.
Find Alternative Ways of Saying the Same Thing
In most cases a cliche can be thrown away with no negative repercussions, but if not then they can be replaced just as easily, too. For instance, the term ‘as easy as pie’ doesn’t really have the same weight to its meaning anymore, so why not replace it with ‘needs minimal effort’? Or how about the aforementioned ‘win-win situation’, which can be substituted with ‘either way, you’re going to win’ to ensure the same meaning while sounding more natural.
But cliches can still be tweaked to make them valid. How about ‘avoiding cliches like your boss’s call on the weekend’ instead of ‘like the plague’? Or you could describe a task as ‘lemon squeezy’, taking the ‘easy peasy’ cliche but using only a part of it; this retains the use of the cliche, but the fact that it’s used differently makes it stand out more and feels a little more fresh and fun.
Away With Those Crutches
Every content creator has their own ways of expressing their thoughts in writing, but when readers start to notice certain patterns and repeat terms, they will immediately recognize you – but only as a mediocre writer that relies on the same crutches over and over again. The beauty of the English language is that there are plenty of ways to convey the same message, and so for this reason it’s imperative to broaden your limits in terms of terms – pun intended – since even the smallest of changes to your usual way of expressing things can greatly improve your style, therefore making you a better, more professional writer.
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