An Insider's Guide to the 5 Things We Write Too Much


Editor's note: This story is part of a community-oriented, weekly article series in which Community Manager Caira Conner discusses how to get the most out of PolicyMic.

Wednesdays at PolicyMic are a good time. We drink coffee, we send around camel GIFs, and we host #TalkPM, during which our pundits (and pundits-to-be) tweet questions they have about using our platform.

#TalkPM launched as a way to provide feedback on how millennials can make the most of their time spent on PolicyMic, be it through delivering fresh perspectives on the news or debating pundits in the article comments section. Last Wednesday, politics writer Jessie Bullock asked the editorial staff, "What are the words that make you cringe?"  

Turns out the editors all had a few ideas on the terms writers should leave out of their work, mostly because we've all used them too many times ourselves (*sheepish wince).

Be sure to include none of the following words and phrases in your next piece. They clog space, detract from your argument, and pop up too often to reflect the originality of your voice.

For more advice on writing, join us on Twitter (#TalkPM) with your questions, feedback, and good jokes for a live community discussion Wednesday, September 18 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

1. I Think (Therefore I Don't Have to Say So)

There are plenty of places where mentioning what you're thinking and feeling is appropriate. Your op-ed is not one of them. If you're writing an opinion piece, the audience is already aware (or should be) that you're making a particular argument based on what you think. Why else would you be writing it? 

2. Appeal to Common Sense; Deny Your Reader An Opinion

Touting an argument that appeals to common sense means you probably forgot to make an actual point. What you're writing may seem logical to you, but common sense alone does not an article make. Include some other evidence for readers with different biases so the article prompts debate instead of a one-sided claim.

3. Ask (Don't Beg) the Question

Dogs can beg. Questions should not. The phrase "begs the question" does not mean prompts to ask. It's used improperly so often that the Washington Post included it in their list of tired ideas and lines to avoid.

When somebody begs the question, what they're actually doing is treating something as true without having proved it.

4. It's Important to Not Note What Will Next Be Explained

The next point that I'm going to explain demonstrates why it is imperative to avoid making references to the act of writing the story itself.

See what I did there? Don't do that. 

Open your story with a couple of sentences on the news hook, then concisely state your thesis. Use the following paragraphs to expand your rationale, and hark back to the original argument. Your points are important because you're including them — no need to re-indicate by flagging their significance ahead of time.

5. Have No FOMO on Made Up Words

FOMO is one of those pesky acronyms that apparently is here to stay for a while. Social media birthed its name, and social media is where it belongs — unless you're writing a story explicitly about the fear of missing out, don't use it.

Same goes for other recent culture phenomena like "twerking".

So over twerking.

Have another word or phrase to include on this list? Let me know on Twitter: @CairaConner, #TalkPM