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The challenge

With a sticky note reminder on my monitor, and a public commitment to the challenge, I started writing a tweet and I felt the restriction almost immediately.

It was a negative feeling at first. While Dreyer says in the book you can write normally and then remove the words after, I found myself tripping over each ‘very’ and ‘so’ that naturally came to me. I felt like I was stalling and getting muddled to the point of losing patience.

This didn’t last long. As I had to re-think my sentences, or structure them entirely differently to avoid the cursed words, the frustration started to slip away. The tweets were better. Some a little better, others a lot better.

You quickly see that the words from the list are often too vague, (‘very’, ‘pretty’, and ‘really’ are weak intensifiers you can near always replace with better ones), or simply unnecessary.

I also realized that I relied on these words to carry me through the copy without giving much thought or effort (something all too attractive when you’re writing tweets all day). I had become reliant on a structure and now I had to re-think it.

Now when I came to write a tweet it wasn’t about chucking in a selling point or comment and then getting it out. Instead I had a think about what it was I was trying to say before putting any words down.

Then I noticed something else. That same approach was sneaking into my head when writing Slack messages and emails. I wasn’t strict with removing the words (maybe that’s my next challenge), but I did find myself taking a pause before blurting out a load of info in a DM.

With emails and platforms like Slack we’re used to sending off messages at the drop of a hat because it feels like we’re saving time. But if we send off 100 badly written messages that need clarifying, we’re wasting a lot of time instead.

At the end of the week I found that not only did exorcising these words make for better copy, it made for a better writing mindset too.

I’ll be sticking to the challenge permanently.

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