Funny, isn’t it? Cliches are everywhere. Sometimes we’re blind to them. Just don’t see them because they’re so common. And other times they hit us between the eyes and they’re impossible to take.
I know some writers just turn tail and run.
But I’ll throw caution to the wind. Because all bets are off, you can bet your bottom dollar, and you can take it to the bank.
Here are the four most offensive cliches I can think of. Never, ever use them.
- Going forward: If you are writing in the future tense (as in, “We will do such and such.”) there is no need for this meaningless phrase. “We will do such and such going forward” or “Going forward, we will do such and such” are pointlessly long. Only use “going forward” like this: “How are you planning on driving the car down the street?” “Going forward.”
- Leverage: Unless you are moving a boulder off the back 40 or are planning to buy a large tobacco company, never use this word. In its common–and incorrect–usage, people confuse “leverage” with “use.” As in: “What assets are you going to leverage for the campaign, Jim?” “Well, Steve, we’re going to leverage all the good assets for the campaign.”
- Win-win: There’s a great campaign running now for American Airlines that does a better job than I can of telling you why you should eliminate “win-win” from your vocabulary. Watch it here.
- Sounds like a plan: Yes, it does. That might be because it is a plan. Now stop being silly.
There are plenty more cliches where those came from. Let’s recite a few more: “drink the Kool-Aid,” “dog eat dog,” “eat the dogfood,” “nose to the grindstone,” “low hanging fruit,” and the ever-popular “think outside the box.”
It’s making me ill just thinking about them.