Years ago I participated in a writer’s workshop in Guatemala, hosted by a successful author. Sessions took place on a patio under a thatched roof overlooking a mountain lake. Memorable setting.
And while the lessons were many, I remember one in particular every time I sit down to write a blog, an email, or a note to a client:
But the workshop leader did a good job of weeding. She pulled dozens of cliché driven sentences from the stories we’d written and wove them into a seamless monologue that went on and on – and said nothing fresh or insightful.
At first I was flattered to hear one of my sentences used, then chastened as I realized, along with my workshop mates, how flat it all sounded.
So I now work mightily to avoid clichés when writing and speaking. It’s not easy!
This is especially difficult given my tendency to half-remember clichés. I once suggested in a decisive manner at a conference table that we “separate the riff from the raff” when I meant, in cliché-speak, to say, “separate the wheat from the chaff.” Ouch.
The nub of it all is clarity. What does one really think and feel, and what are the words that clearly express those thoughts and feelings?
When I hear clichés I start probing – weeding the conversation – till I hear a fresh and personal take on the subject.
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.