Cliches: Avoid them like … …

This writing business, it’s a roller coaster ride, up one minute, down the next. It’s been emotional and I’m struggling to come to terms with it. Some people think it’s as easy as pie and writers don’t have a care in the world. But you have to be tough as old boots and hard as nails to suffer the slings and arrows and weather the storm. You have to think outside the box, have nerves of steel, take the rough with the smooth and above all, don’t let it get you down.

You may get out of bed the wrong side and feel like a bear with a sore head some days, but you’ve got to keep on keeping on, because at the end of the day, it’s down to you. It is what it is and if there’s no pain, there’s no gain. Just don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

But keep your chin up. Every cloud has a silver lining and every dog has its day. What goes around comes around, and time heals all wounds. In the grand scheme of things you’ll live to fight another day.

30 thoughts on “Cliches: Avoid them like … …

  1. Oh, I’m so bad. I read that whole post and thought it was such fantastic advice, and I only noticed one cliche! (Which just goes to show that cliches do have their purpose!)

    1. Cliches certainly have their purpose. They’re easily/universally understood, which makes them useful shorthand in conversation. But I’ve been rapped across the knuckles several times when they’ve seeped into my writing, usually without my even noticing. And you make a good point – they’re so ubiquitous, we don’t even see them. But writers are supposed to find more engaging and imaginative words for their stories, and avoid the laziness of cliche. I guess a sprinkle of cliche across a blog can’t hurt though!

  2. Same here. It wasn’t until the second paragraph that it finally hit me like a tone of bricks. Once I did, it was quite a fun read. So much so that I had to return to the beginning and read it through once again. The true sign of a really good piece (or a confusing one… you be the judge!)

  3. Fun post, and good point, but cliches can be so ingrained it’s hard to get past them. It took me a day and a half to think of a substitute for: she almost jumped out of her skin. What I finally came up with was better though!

    1. I agree – we’re so accustomed to some cliches that we don’t even notice them. I used some of the more obvious ones in my post, just for fun, but there are plenty more surreptitious ones which are so embedded in our language they pass unchallenged! But if you’re a writer, it’s more satisfying to move beyond cliche.

  4. This discussion is going to run and run… So better not use any images in your writing, just pare it down to the bare bones (there we go again…) to get it past the editor’s word count, and you’re safe. Is that the point? An image or expression is a cliche because it’s well-known and well-used; it may still be eloquent and succinct, and it may be appropriate in the context/to the character.
    You can hardly blame the language or the writer if the expression is part of everyday life: think Shakespeare, think Hamlet. We don’t know and should not assume that all the imagery is original – his ideas and language would have been familiar to his audience, to an extent.

    1. Good point! There’s always the challenge of balancing creative imagery (non clicheed of course, all original thought, no lazy language…) with brevity for the sake of the story. Part of the problem with cliches is that they’re universally understood and therefore can be seen as useful shorthand. The biggest problem for writers is perhaps not to find alternative descriptors, but to spot the cliches that seep into their writing in the first place. Good point about Shakespeare too. Every cliche must have begun life as an original thought, once upon a time. 🙂

  5. I love this, even the title!
    I wish I would write some fun things like this
    yet I am always wearing my serious hat.

    Forever lost without reason our minds are our own – check me out!

  6. Thank heavens that I never in a month of Sundays ever use cliches. Never, not even if my ar** was on fire, not for all the coals in Newcastle, tea in China or gold in Fort Knox. The first Original Sin wasn’t biting that blasted apple (“Hey you! What time of the day was Adam born?” … “Duuuu, let me see now … afternoon, a little before eve?”) it was coining a cliches and it all went downhill from there. But keep your chin up, there’s hope for us yet …

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