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Ditch the Crutch

One of the biggest challenges in writing is getting your point across to readers, so don’t sabotage your message with words and phrases you don’t need. These impediments, aptly called ‘crutch,’ ‘filler,’ or ‘clutter’ terms, not only water down your point, they can actually work against you by making your thoughts sound weak or indecisive. Examples of these culprits include:

Seems

Actually

I think

Possibly

In my opinion

Probably

In fact

Quite

Basically

As yet


There are many, many others, but you get the idea. The basic rule is: anything that doesn’t advance your idea or clarify your concept needs to go --- it’s just padding. Adding these words and phrases does nothing but diminish your impact. Consider the results when we toss some clutter into famous quotations:


“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can possibly do for your country.”

“It seems there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’”

“In my opinion, there’s no place like home.”

“I think we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

“Loose lips basically sink ships.”


Did throwing in unnecessary verbiage improve any of those iconic lines? Of course not! Crutch words muddied the clear statements and stripped away their power. Relying on filler will come across as weak and detract from your writing, too, especially if you make it a habit. Or worse, your pieces will read like a high school term paper where the kid is struggling to hit the ‘word count.’


The best way to weed out the fluff is to try your sentence without the crutch --- if it still works, chop away! And always, always, ALWAYS leave out ‘I think,’ ‘in my opinion,’ ‘it seems to me,’ and the like --- it’s obvious since you are the author that the thoughts and opinions expressed are yours, so these phrases are redundant.


Stripping out ‘helping’ phrases will give your prose an immediate power-up, and your message will come across clearly and confidently every time! (At least I think, possibly, in my opinion, you’ll actually be quite pleased, it seems!)


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