How to Declutter Your Writing: A Fight Against Fluff

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How to Declutter Your Writing
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It’s time to learn how to declutter your writing. No more drumming up ideas that end in puddles of nonsense, leaving the reader and you exhausted.

So many writers and readers have fallen victim to 800-word pieces of SEO content.

Here’s how to fix it:

State your intentions.

Repeat an idea no more than three times and always reword it.

Deliver with examples and precision.

Cut out words and ideas that do not contribute to the main topic at hand.

No better example than practicing what I preach, so here goes my list.

1) I plan to write an 800-word piece on How to Declutter Your Writing.

2) I will only repeat my ideas three times.

3) I will provide examples from three legends of decluttering: Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, and Maya Angelou on how they approach declutter.

4) I will cut out three ideas that were more of us just rambling than stating a point.

You know fluff writing; you may have read some today. Poor you. It rambles on about a topic that two sentences in the middle could have answered. The problem isn’t necessarily that they ramble; it’s the deception of information that bothers us.

The problem is they dragged you down a path of promising information and enlightenment and string you along to the very last sentence. Their writing is captivating, mesmerizing, even, but more or less empty.

Every word has a purpose.

“Every word is optional until proven necessary.”

One of the greatest writers of our time once said, “Every word is optional until proven necessary.” This statement is what you should consider when writing. How do I prove the words that I am writing down as a necessary part of my message?

Writing can be a two-edged sword. You don’t want to sound like an idiot, but you also don’t want to sound like an ass. John Mayer has a song called, “Say what you need to say,” and that’s how you should approach your writing. Only say what needs to be said, and leave the rest to building conversation and community.

Setting Expectations

Your reader has a certain expectation when it comes to your work. You can either set those expectations as I did by listing what I would do or gradually, over time, create a transparent community where your readers understand this is your voice, and here are the ways you deliver your ideas.

Setting expectations isn’t only about listing out what you are planning to do. It also means doing it with simplicity. I would love for that to mean shorter sentences, but as you can see, that is a struggle for most writers. However you set your reader’s expectations, remember to do it clearly and concisely.

Don’t Just Fluff For Fluff Sake.

I am at word 461. You didn’t need to know that; actually, I could have gone through the entire article without saying how many words I have written so far. I tend to ramble when I begin to run out of ideas.

The simple solution is to revisit your intention for the article. In his memoir, On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, Stephen King discusses the importance of taking a break from your words to see them in a new light. Sometimes a break away from what you are trying to create is the best way to declutter your writing.

You become so absorbed in what you want to create; you think all your words are important. They’re not. In fact, I could have written a 300-word article to highlight the same points.

Breathe, It’s Only Words

Before you take out the pitchfork and try to set me on fire for that heading, remember that writing is a sacred art until it’s not. It’s only words on paper, no need to fluff it up to be something it is not. Better yet, don’t water down your ideas until they are useless either.

Far too many writers run out of words to say in the middle of their well-thought-out piece. It’s a travesty, but it happens. At that moment, you are tempted to wring your ideas dry of their worth to reach the word limit.

Resist.

Breathe; it’s only words.

You are not trying to negate the importance of words but rather highlight the simplicity of their nature. You don’t need to stress the word count. Let the words fall where they may.

End on A Strong Note

Ezra Pound has a poem that is only 14 words long. Hemingway wrote a story that was five words in a contest amongst friends. It had a beginning, middle, and end.

Now you’re probably wondering how and why did they declutter their work to that point. You’ll understand, there are extremes in writing, as in any other craft. I wanted to highlight how writers maintained their audience expectations and kept the quality of their work intact.

You’ll fight with yourself over long descriptive articles, but you should take a breath. Robert Jordan didn’t write this article, neither is it trying to capture the essence of women-folk magic. It merely explains how to declutter your work by stating your intentions, highlighting writers/poets who were good at decluttering, and creating a sense of camaraderie amongst us writers.

And when you have written too much, as I have in this 904-word article. You edit. Edit like it’s an art form. One, you are hell-bent on perfecting. 

Not sure where to start? No worries, we’re here for you. Check out our service page and learn more about how we can help you build your audience.

Published by Joy Nibbs

I love food, writing, and community. Pretty simple right? Life should be simple and full of opportunities to grow and become a better person.

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