Wordiness – Why It’s a Problem and How to Recognise It

I’m wordy, guilty as charged. Strangely enough, I’m not a big talker, but when I do talk, I often state my points a few times in different ways before shutting up. It’s my perfectionist streak coming out – the first thing out of my mouth never feels good enough, so I have to try and see if I can say it any better.

This trait most certainly carries over into my writing in a subtler way. My wordiness in writing is sneaky, a word or two here or there that only serve as a repetition or weaken the words around them. In writing, one of the most important skills you can learn is being concise, and I’m still trying to master it.

But what’s so bad about wordiness in writing? If it’s only a few little words, what’s the big deal? The deal is that these small words become a big problem real fast. Even small filler words detract from the power of straightforward sentences and can bore the reader. Direct, punchy sentences are what will hold attention. You can (and should) certainly write with a variety of sentence structures, but even in a long sentence, being direct and to the point is important so you don’t lose your reader.

The other reason? A lot of these words are just unnecessary, and a good story – or post, essay, or whatever – has no time for that. Your readers don’t have time for that. A hallmark of being a good editor of your own work is to know exactly what to cut. But if this is something you do just out of habit (like me), it can be hard to identify these innocuous words. As I said, I still struggle with this, but here are some things I’ve found that help:

1. Get some space from your writing. Put it aside before you edit it so you’re seeing it with fresh eyes.

2. Use a grammar checker. It’ll help you identify at least a few of those extra words and can help you rephrase sentences to make them stronger (see #5 on the list).

3. Look for unnecessary words that you use often. One of mine is “just,” a word that diminishes the power of sentences. Figure out which words you use and be on the lookout for those.

4. Practise being more concise. The more you practise getting your ideas across more concisely, the less you’ll have to take out those useless words.

5. Think: “Is there a way to rephrase that?” Look for ways you can change up sentence structure so your thoughts are more direct.

This habit takes time to overcome, but your writing will be so much better for it.

Are you a wordy writer? Do you have a different writing hangup? Let me know in the comments!

Happy writing!

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Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash

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When you write as much as I do, you have to take frequent breaks from sitting. A standing desk (not a whole desk, but a mini desk that will sit on top of my current desk with my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and extend upward) will allow me to continue working while maintaining that good blood flow to my brain. Thank you so much for your support that allows me to keep producing free content. God bless you! ♥️ E.J.


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