One of the first steps to avoiding overuse of common clichés in your writing is to first learn to identify them. We get so used to hearing them in our daily conversation that we might sometimes forget that they make our writing dry and boring.
Here are some examples of overused clichés or phrases and what you might say instead:
“everyday life” – this is a common cliché that can be cut out completely in most cases. You can also remedy this by being more specific. Everyday life can vary according to who you are and where you are in life. Speak directly and specifically to who you are talking to.
“in today’s society” – you can cut this one out with a simple “today” or “currently”
“pros and cons” – try instead to use advantages and disadvantages or maybe the costs and benefits
Some other types of cliché phrases that come up often in article writing include:
• All walks of life
• Writing on the wall
• Winds of change
• Hook, line and sinker
• Calm before the storm
• Nip it in the bud/ nipped in the bud
• Stick out like a sore thumb
• Leaps and bounds
• Chomping at the bit
• Sleeping dog lie
• Run for the hills
• The devil’s work
• Avoid it like the plague
• The future depends on it
• Slippery slope
• Bane’s existence
Often these phrases are used as a method of illustrating a point. Since they are well known phrases, we think that it will be easier to make our point by using them. The problem with this is twofold- first, you have lost an entire audience with anyone who does not know what these phrases are. Secondly, you are not finding a new, unique or interesting way of saying what you want to express. There is nothing creative about reusing an old cliché again and again.
There are so many great words out there and so many great ways to make use of them that you want to challenge yourself to avoid these common clichés and find new ways to get your point across. A good exercise to help you do this is to freewrite for a certain period of time and then read over what you have written. Print it out and highlight the clichéd or overused phrases so you can really make a point to notice them and avoid them in the future. This will help you cut down on the amount of clichés you use from now on and your writing will be stronger and more interesting.