Quick Tips: Purge cliches from your writing

Particularly useful for fundraisers who write a lot of copy, there are two tools that I’ve taken to using more and more since I’m now a solo practitioner who gets a lot of work done in the hours after the rest of my house has gone to bed.

Now, please don’t get too excited about my violating my own “sleep, dammit” advice – the kid’s down at 8:30, the husband retires at 9:15 at the latest…but it’s not my own finest hour for creating inspired prose, which means I edit in the mornings.  Here are two tools I want you to know about.

Cliche Finder

It’s a web form…cut and paste your stuff in there and click the button that says “find cliches.”  Some cliches can be useful in a piece meant to appeal to public emotion…but cliches that aren’t a deliberate choice are probably doing you a disservice.  You spellcheck, right?  Cliche check.

The Passivator

OK, I don’t use this much, but then again, my first boss was the analog version of this bookmarklet that hunts out and scolds you for using the passive voice.  Thanks to him, I reflexively review my work for passive verbs and useless adverbs all on my own.  If you’re either starting out as a professional with writing duties or a mid-career professional who’s never developed into a star writer (it’s such an important job skill – good writers are in high demand, always), this tool might help.  (Again, it’s not *always* a no-no, but you want to be intentional about your choices and how they impact your readers.)  It’s a little more involved than a web tool, but worth installing and trying.

Burnout is not a Badge of Honor

There is a curious thing that happens when a lot of highly ambitious professionals get together…ask someone how things are going at their job, and they will most likely say “good, but crazy” and then proceed to talk about how very very busy they are.  Then everyone in earshot will chime in with stories about how busy they are, as if working to the point of exhaustion is a point of pride, as if working more hours is directly related to virtue and professional value.

I was going to write this post about fundraisers, but the more I thought about it, the less it seemed restricted to development professionals.  The problem is, it’s insane. Read more