Are crutch words crippling your writing?
Definitely. Basically, if you are literally repeating almost all the same words and phrases, crutch words are crippling your writing. Why? Because words like “definitely,” “basically,” “literally” and “almost” are incredibly boring. They make you seem unimaginative, and they can drive away your readers.
Crutch words are those that you use too often. Sometimes, they are filler words that you use without thinking about it. At other times, they are your most favorite words on earth. My favorite crutch word is “optimize.” I optimize everything. What are your favorite crutch words?
Let Your Writing Run Wild: Throw Away Your Crutch Words
Identify your crutch words
Identifying your crutch words is the first step to hobbling them. You might already know your favorite crutch words. Stop using them in every piece you write; use your pet words sparingly and only when another word won’t work.
But what about sneaky crutch words? Using a word frequency tool can help you identify the words you use too frequently.
Omit needless words
Using unnecessary words can also be a crutch. In Elements of Style, Strunk warns against using unnecessary words. He explains that a written work should not have unnecessary words “for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
Strunk had a special dislike for the crutch phrase, “the fact that” and suggested writers delete it from every sentence. In fact, delete every instance of the word “that” that does not need to be there.
Use your thesaurus
Dust off your thesaurus or use your word processor’s synonym generator to find suitable replacements for crutch words.
Know where crutch words belong
Crutch words do have a place in some types of writing. Fiction writers can sprinkle crutch words into dialogue, as many people tend to use the same words and phrases when speaking.
Learn to love minimalism
Many content writers adore filler words when trying to meet a maximum word count. If you simply must add more words, add an interesting fact or expand upon an idea.
For more information on kicking crutch words to the curb, consult with a WriterAccess writer. WA wordsmiths have huge vocabularies and know how to use them.
Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. She writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.