Look for that overused word

I'll give you one hint at a word my editor pointed out to me as being 'overused'.  Look at my title.  Ah, heck, never mind.  I've already used the word "look" in this post and I was only two sentences in.  As you can guess, writing is a skill that improves over time.  The more you write, read, and study writing, the more you improve.

One challenge most (probably all) writers face is identifying and (here's the tough part) removing overused words.  Sure, you may think that with a thesaurus it's easy to find new words, but every word has nuances.

Writers don't often realize they are overusing a word until another person (editor, reader, etc.) points out the overuse. This goes for phrases too.

My weaknesses:

  • Look
  • Just
  • Not that it matters

There's no way to avoid the overuse, at least not initially as writer have a style and every overused work is part of that style. As a writer becomes aware of a word or phrase he or she overuses, the write cam, to a certain extent, train him/herself to use the word less often when writing.

Advice to writers:

  1. When a reader/editor tells you about an overused word, add it to a list. Yes, a list... you should maintain this list because a word that is overused in one piece of writing will likely creep into ALL of your writing.
  2. Use find and replace to review each and every occurrence of those word(s)/phrases on your list.  Keep a thesaurus handy and replace when appropriate.
  3. Be willing to rewrite sections to eliminate the word.


You may find that removing the number of occurrences of the overused word that you end up adding detail or at the very least tighten your writing.

Happy writing!