“Words, like glass, obscure when they do not aid vision.” – Joseph Joubert
I find when I go back to edit anything I’ve written I come across the word ‘just’ far too often. I know this word should be used sparingly yet it seems to crop and spread through my prose like a fast growing weed. Sometimes I catch myself typing the word so I’m able to delete it on the spot. Then when I reread my work, I notice I included the word in the very next sentence.
‘Just’ is not my only overused word but it is my most annoying one. I also tend towards redundancies like shrugged his shoulders, stood up, sat down and fell down.
I’ve tried sticking notes on my computer screen and tacking a list of words to avoid on a wall near my computer. Even with the reminders right in front of me, the offending words and phrases find their way into my writing.
I found a great list of overused words and ideas to replace them over on My Writing Life but was surprised because ‘just’ is not included on the list. Am I just the only person who just insists on using that word? See what I mean?
Taking overused words to another level is the tradition at Lake Superior State University in Michigan. Each year they compile a list of words that should never be used again based on their overuse in the previous twelve-month period. On their 2009 list are words like maverick, carbon footprint, green, and staycation. I was surprised to find an emoticon had made the list. It supposedly looks like a heart and is used for the word love. The complete list can be found here.
Have you discovered a way to break yourself from overusing certain words? Are there words you think should be added to Lake Superior State University’s list?
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: overused words, redundancies, Lake Superior State University, emoticon, Joubert,