I am really excellent at thinking through and writing sentences that are completely full of extra words that clutter up the main ideas and that keep(s) the reader from understanding all of or the one main idea(s) I want them to understand from my blog posts.

I am gifted with the ability to navigate the metaphorical world of useless jargon, and select the most advantageous and descriptive diction that both completes the narrative forming in my mental capacity and delivers to the reader a captivating experiential reading experience.

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Lesson #2 I’ve learned While Writing

Confession time. The other day I read: “Clutter is the disease of American writing,” and realized — I have that disease! I am guilty of using lots of extra words. See, there I go again. I am guilty of use lots of extra words.

When I was a child, my mom was amazed at my ability to think on my feet and present a compelling argument as to why she should let me eat chocolate cookies for breakfast. From very early on, she told me I should become a lawyer. I don’t know why. As a child I never won any of the arguments I made against her. Maybe she should have been the lawyer.

Later, she told me that it wasn’t that I presented air-tight cases for doing what I wanted, but I could wear down an opponent (her) with the amount of different angles I argued. In other words — I was verbose.

This tendency, has shown up throughout my life. In high school, I filled 15-page research papers with one or two points. In college, I received an “A” on a 38 page paper, while a classmate received an “A” on a 12 page paper. And even this blog includes several previous articles that should have been shorter. Clutter is a disease, but not because of extra words, it’s a deeper problem.

One night, while reading the book On Writing Well, I came face to face with pride. I wrote the following paragraph in my journal:

“Once again, I have experienced the magic of writing well. It’s not found in witty lines, big words, or long paragraphs. It’s when an author represents a story to the reader in the clearest way. It’s when extra words, thoughts, and characters are removed so the reader is not distracted from the main ideas. It’s a form of humility — humility that says, ‘my experience and wisdom are not the focus; proving I’m ‘smart’ or a ‘good writer’ is not the focus; helping the reader understand is the focus.'” As an author (and human being), I’m not very humble :)

At the top of this blog are two sentences — both illustrate pride. Sentence #1 happens when I have a lot to say about a topic or issue, and I want to command a conversation. Sentence #2 happens when I want to appear brilliant. Both are forms of pride, and both show up in my writing.

I want to use this blog (and the future book) for good, and make a difference in the world. I want to challenge people’s assumptions and weave intricate stories that captivate people’s attention. That’s okay. As a writer, those are good goals. But within those goals are opportunities to become prideful.

Good writing is not about the author, just like fighting for a cause is not about the activist. It’s about loving someone else, and helping them live a better life.

How do you struggle with pride? You may comment below…

*quote on clutter comes from the book On Writing Well by: William Zinsser

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