That’s what I said last time and the time before

Do you ever stop to think about what you’ve said or written?

That's what I said | Thinking outside the box

Or do you stop to think about what other people think about what you’ve said or written?

Did they find it interesting or did their eyes glaze over?

Most people use popular phrases or clichés and I know I sometimes catch myself using them.

I try not to use clichés such as ‘thinking outside of the box’, but do find myself thinking about them.

Putting clichés into practice

I am often amused by the thought of applying clichés in everyday life.

Why do I need to think ‘outside the box’? How do I think ‘inside the box’?

I could pretend the photo opposite depicts me experimenting to find out what thinking ‘inside the box’ is like, but it doesn’t. It was a box I couldn’t resist climbing into.

Keeping it fresh

Does it matter that we use clichés or industry jargon? It’s easy to plant a ready-made phrase in a sentence in a press release or other text.

I find the difficulty is in having to read them. If we’re not careful, recycling what we speak or write can become a habit. If lots of other people also develop this habit, press releases written by businesses in our sector could all read the same.

This does happen and it’s tedious to read them as a journalist. It’s a joy when a press release arrives that is fresh, lively and imaginative. I want to will the writer’s words on to the printed page of the newspaper. They deserve it.

Sounding original

If you look back over your text and cut any clichés you spot, think about expressing thoughts differently, make it more interesting, you’re more likely to attract interest.

You could give a new twist to an issue, different to what everyone else is saying. You might even develop a new view of the issue by thinking of it differently.

I could ask if that is ‘thinking outside of the box’, but to me that expression is stale and unoriginal.

Perhaps I’ll stay in my box and think it through.

What do you think?

O is for original. Content is satisfaction

While there are considerable arguments for recycling natural resources where viable, I’m not so keen when this is applied to writing. Too much of the content of web sites, newspapers and magazines is recycled.

How much value to visitors is there from a bought-in or free newsfeed on a web site? If I am looking for detailed information on a specific topic or am shopping for a particular item, I don’t want to be distracted by international news stories. If I want news, I get it from a news site. In fact, I usually ignore much of the rubbish at the periphery of web pages and when I do notice it I wonder why it is there before moving on.

If sites add this type of content to earn money from affiliate schemes and other paid incentives, it’s understandable why they do it, although it still doesn’t enrich the visitor experience.

As a writer, I’m biased: I want to see original content every time. But even I realise that I can’t write it all and I don’t want to. On many occasions, I’ve read about the ‘democracy’ created by the internet and this is one instance where there’s an opportunity for all web site owners, whether professional writers or not, to make their own voices heard.

So let’s cut the recycling and see more original content. I’m sure it will satisfy a lot more people.

Robert Zarywacz

Telephone: 0333 0444 354