Using clichés will suck the life out of your writing

Have you got the word “passionate” in your LinkedIn profile? The odds are you do – almost everyone does.

The problem when you sound like everyone else is that … well, you sound like everyone else.

One reason why people think AI does such a great job at writing is because most people write like robots. Way before AI came along, people still unwittingly followed simple formulas, such as by writing: “I’m passionate about [insert job activity here]”. AI just sped it up.

It’s not just LinkedIn profiles either. For example, how often have you seen “We love supporting our customers” on a statement by a company you know does not love supporting its customers – because you are one of its unsupported customers.

Most of us write in clichés, which is why almost everything we read – from cover letters and press releases right through to public statements from CEOs and politicians, is riddled with them. This is one reason why people tend to scan rather than read every word – because why would you read every word when the writer hasn’t put the effort in?

The problem with clichés is they rapidly become meaningless over time, which in turn makes our writing meaningless. It’s as if, while writing, we think others won’t notice the cliché, even though we’ve noticed it countless times ourselves.

AI is wonderful at writing in clichés, but that does not make its writing wonderful. From now on, every time you use AI and think it did a great job, it’s time to revaluate your perception of greatness.

I train staff on writing, storytelling and communicating persuasively – and what makes that interesting to me is it’s such a human endeavour. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing for business or pleasure – if you put thought into it, if you mean what you’re saying, it’ll resonate because it’s human. But when you resort to clichés or AI, you’re just pumping out something that’s been done many, many times before.

P.S. I’m not saying you should never use the word passionately – but don’t overuse it. In writing, it’s often best to show, don’t tell. Don’t tell people you’re passionate about something if you can show them instead. It’s harder to do, but it’ll make your writing stand out.


Learn more by enrolling in the Writing Essentials online course

Taught by a former newspaper editor and journalist, this writing course teaches all the basics, including:

  • how to write in the active voice
  • how to use positive language
  • using the right tone of voice and style
  • cutting copy
  • making your intros stronger
  • writing in plain English
  • how to write in the inverted pyramid style
  • top 10 news criteria (what makes a story interesting)
  • frontloading content
  • grammar and punctuation
  • proofreading tips
  • writing great headlines.

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