Cut That

One of the first things you learn after leaving college is how to stop writing like you’re in college.

One of the first things you learn after leaving college is how to stop writing like you’re in college.

Step One

Stop writing so many long sentences.

Step Two

Figure out what else you can cut.

Sometimes it’s whole paragraphs, sometimes it’s only a single character, but you can always find something to eliminate to tighten your copy.

Read each sentence aloud. Did you stumble anywhere? See why, it’s probably an extra word you can cut. Or at the very least, a convoluted phrase you can simplify.

Step Three

Learn when grammar doesn’t matter.

The last sentence of Step Two isn’t a complete sentence. But any reader who passed middle school English can understand the message. Was a complete sentence necessary? No. Write like you speak and more people will understand your message.

Step Four

Cut the biggest filler word in writing: that.

Except for the preceding sentence and the title, the “t” word hasn’t appeared once in this article. It’s filler three-quarters of the time. Always check to see if it’s a word you can cut.

Step Five

Learn your own filler words. “In so much as,” “in order to,” and more clutter up copy. They’re overly formal and can shrink to half their size without losing meaning.

What words do you use over and over that you could simply remove? Identify them.

Step Six

It’s never over.

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann is right – the more you write, the more you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. And the more you see, the more you’ll want to fix.

Last Thoughts

Keep rewriting. Keep reworking. And most simply, cut that.