Banishing Overused Words #sol15

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Do you have a word or phrase that appears too often in your writing? Do those words or phrases sneak into your writing, no matter how vigilant you’ve been while drafting? How do those words creep into the pages of a manuscript? And, once those words make it into a manuscript, they can be hard to remove because they seem to take over the whole piece.  Overused words are like weeds taking over a garden and they take a lot of effort to remove.

This morning, while working on revising a book review, I realized that several words and phrases appeared over and over throughout this piece of writing.  I typically revise as I write, but I’ve been struggling with this particular piece so much that I finally just made myself put words on paper without stopping to consider anything.  So, when I finally gave myself permission to revise, I discovered that the following words were a just few that appeared entirely too often:

provides

supports

essential

not only…but also…

I went through my manuscript, highlighting the words and phrases that had invaded my writing.  I struggled with finding the right words to replace them  Slowly and painfully, I finally eliminated the overused words.  It was an arduous process, but I feel much better about this piece.  While I still have work to do in other areas, such as expanding on a few ideas in this manuscript, at least I’m happier with my word choices.  I also have an important story about revising to share with my students in the fall.

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6 thoughts on “Banishing Overused Words #sol15

  1. cvarsalona

    I think this piece of yours is refreshing. While I like to word weave, I also see overused word critters creeping in. It’s great to call attention to them and bring out the word extractor to debug my writing.

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  2. SJR

    this is such a good piece and such a good lesson, and it’s great to have your own experience to show your students, so they know that even grownups who’ve been writing for a long time still have to work at it. When I revise I always have the thesaurus nearby to help me get to the next word. And since I often work as a copy editor, I’ve even made lists of synonyms of frequently overused words (experience [as verb]; involve; iconic) and taped them to the side of my computer screen. You sound like a very good teacher.

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  3. kathleentobiasson

    This is hard! I think that when we speak, having these words or ohrases helps facilitate communication and are a strong part of our voice; when writing, they are hard to overcome! I like the idea of havong two “jars” one of words that I want to use, and one that I don’t!

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  4. kathleentobiasson

    This is hard! I think that when we speak, having these words or ohrases helps facilitate communication and are a strong part of our voice; when writing, they are hard to overcome! I like the idea of having two “jars” one of words that I want to use, and one that I don’t!

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  5. elsie

    Get the idea down, then go back and search for those repeat offenders is always my strategy. Sometimes it does take some creative wording to get the same idea. Glad you were happy with your results.

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