Yesterday I pulled a cereal box from the shelf. Poured some in a bowl and added milk. When I sat down to eat I noticed the writing on the box—“0mg sodium.” I laughed out loud. I realized how much time I have spent online when the first thought that went through my head was Ohmigosh sodium. Of course what it meant was “no sodium” or zero sodium.
Social media is changing the way we express ourselves. However to express ourselves in an articulate manner requires that we know our audience. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. I couldn’t help but wonder if a nine-year-old might interpret the message on the cereal box differently than a senior citizen.
In today’s environment where omg means ohmigosh and lol means laughing out loud (not little old lady), how do we infuse our writing, with expressiveness and clarity, without using a lot of tired old cliché’s?
I pulled out one of my bottom shelf books (see earlier blog…”I Love My Books to Death…). It is a guide-book written by Arthur Plotnik, The Elements of Expression, Plotnik lists the following steps to lead us toward expressive writing—
Keep a journal
Scan (scan the possible choices)
Choose (choose apt expressions for the situation)
Invent (invent fresh ways to use and combine them)
Polish (polish the word order for emphasis and flow)
This book is a useful little book, written in a fun and entertaining manner. Expressive examples flow naturally in Plotnik’s writing. In addition to the steps toward expressiveness Plotnik has hints for identifying real voice; how to express force; when and how to use quotes; and how to liven up a tired vocabulary. This is a book that orators as well as writers will find informative.
If you are currently ‘hanging onto overused expressions as you would a beloved shirt’ you might consider taking a risk. Try something different. And by all means pick up a copy of Plotnik’s book. His website is http://www.artplotnik.com/