Want to give your writing a boost? Try getting rid of these unnecessary words.
I constantly try to improve my writing. I struggle sometimes, just like everyone else. When I read a post on Mashable about the words you don't need in your writing, it struck a chord. I began looking to my own habits to identify my problem areas. The Mashable article mentions 15 words you don't need to use, but I think there's a time and place for many of the words. Here are the 10 that I identify with — because they are the unnecessary words I add to my writing the most.
- That: Sometimes you need to use this word. Most of the time you don't. Originally, when I wrote the sentence in the previous paragraph, it read: “because they are the unnecessary words that I add to my writing the most.” As you can see, the sentence works just fine without the extra word. It's more dynamic, too.
- Went: When I wrote my post about tips for improving writing, I included finding other words for “to be” verbs. Went is along these lines. Instantly boost your writing dynamic by substituting other words.
- Honestly: I use this word too much. You don't need this for emphasis. Or as a transition. Honestly.
- Very: I've become better at avoiding this word, but it's still sometimes a problem. The reality is that a good adjective stands on its own, without the embroidery.
- Really: See above ^^^
- Just: If you are talking about whether or not something is just, sure, use the word. Otherwise, it's just filler. As you can see, if you remove “just” from the previous sentence, it makes sense and has a bigger impact.
- Maybe: Let's not equivocate, especially if you need to write something in an authoritative voice. Be sure about your facts, and you don't need to hedge.
- Stuff and Things: This is a twofer. Both of these words are generic. They don't offer anything. Use something concrete.
- Amazing: I don't necessarily agree with this choice. Instead, I advise avoiding any word that has become meaningless. Amazing doesn't pack the punch it used to.
- And: This is my own addition to the beginning of the list. I've been starting sentences with “and” for a long time. While it's ok in small doses, after a while it makes sense to change things up a bit.
In some ways, these words are comforting. They can help you pad your writing a little bit, and they are familiar words. However, the writing starts to feel lazy after a while. If you are ready to take your writing to the next level, pay attention to the words you use. Cut out the fat, and choose words that move your narrative forward.