One of the great joys in life is finishing a first draft of anything. A freshly painted wall – preferably a colour you love. A newly planted garden – assuming you love digging deep and getting dirty. A manuscript and mission of love –an achievement causing fist pumps and screams.

But once the first-draft Work is done, there’s more. Writers who push right to the end, whether posting, publishing or standing up to speak, always take the time sharpen their saw against first-draft communication clutter. (Now THAT was a mouthful!)

Below are five common potholes that darken our words and impact. Cut them and let springtime brighten your Work and crack Light into our world.

1. Avoid “it is” usage.

A nasty duo: a weak verb holding hands with a vague word. Common examples include It is difficult, It is important, It is easy. Nope. What is “it”? Tell us what is difficult (e.g., Divorce is difficult), what is important (e.g., Safety is important), what is easy (e.g., Gaining weight is easy).

2. Add active verbs.

Want to strengthen and shorten your sentences? Ditch passive verbs. For example, My garden was mutilated by a rabid groundhog (boring) becomes A rabid groundhog mutilated my garden (bloodbath). Hint: ferret out as many “was” and “by” in your Work so your words come to life.

Attack inflated words. This is a game changer. Forget what your Grade 4 teacher taught you. Rather than fancy fat phrases like to utilize, as a result of, in regards, to obtain consider using strong simple words like use, because, regarding, get. Clean, lean and mean = clear, compelling communication.

3. Axe all weak verbs.

The most common weaklings are do, get, put and have. Consider replacing these snore fests with stronger verbs NOT just a fancy synonymous verb. (See previous point.) Always ask, “Can I use a stronger verb than do, get, put, have and maintain the original meaning of the sentence?”

4. Annihilate imprecise words.

An absolute hardcore pet peeve of editors just about everywhere. Rarely any sentence in the world is enhanced by that silly word very. Example, She was very charming vs She was charming. Other muddy, stinky clutter words: many, several, everybody, anybody, somebody.

5. Alliteration is awesome but can be annoying.

‘Nuf said.

Cheers to spring sunshine, pruning clutter from your Work and getting through another season with as much Joy and creativity as you can.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn

Stay muddy and free thinking,
♥ Shannon ♥