Writing: Back to the basics

By Posted in - Blog & Writing on August 8th, 2013 0 Comments

tumblr_lqwjirUQ6x1qhxmiso1_500The great Coco Chanel once said, “Before you leave the house, take a look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

Chanel was referring to fashion and accessories of course, but I recently read a PR blog that suggested this idea should apply to your writing – and the thought has stuck with me ever since.

In an industry in which drafting news releases, e-newsletters, executive bios, and blog posts has become a part of our everyday lives – it’s easy to fall into a writing routine. I’ve learned that giving your work a little extra love by editing, tweaking and possibly taking out a word or two (per Chanel’s advice), makes it much more interesting to your audience.

George Orwell, an English novelist and journalist, applied the same idea to his famous works nearly a century ago. It’s incredible to think the same tactics that captivated readers of the 1940s, can still essentially be applied to writing today, even amongst our fast-paced, “get to the point already” society.

In one of Orwell’s 1946 essays, he provides us with “six rules of writing,” which I think are worth revisiting and important to consider.

1) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print.

2) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

5) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Sure it may seem slightly elementary, but sometimes reverting back to the basics is just the refresher your writing could use.

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