Cliches: The Name of the Game

MP900427662[1]Have you taken my class, Brave New Writer: Leadership Through Corporate Storytelling?

If so, you know how adverse I am to cliches. When I see certain ones, I just tell myself to keep walking past those open windows.

Phrases such as: As you know; if you have any questions, hit the nail on the head; attached please find; tip of the iceberg; avoid like the plague; catch-22; not in my wheelhouse. Well, you get the picture. (Oh, sorry about that one.)

Cliches are tired. They're boring. They cause you to skip right past them frantically searching for the meaning of the paragraph. Cliches sound like we have no independent thinking – as if we can't cope unless we borrow from someone else. That's ok if we're adolescents and trying out anything and everything (oh, lord, there I go again) until something fits.

Yesterday, I came across Gary Kinder's blog, "Write to the Point" titled, Barking Up the Wrong Tree. I thought at least he could come up with a different name for his blog, what with his writing about cliches and all. Just a little more proof that the world isn't perfect.

At any rate, (oops, there I go again), he makes good points. A cliche, says Kinder, is clever (that's why everybody started repeating it, and that is how it became a cliche). But hearing them over and over again doesn't mean we recognize them as cliches. Who would have thought that "Please don't hesitate to call me" at the end of your email is a cliche?

If you absolutely must use cliches, at least don't mix them up. Kinder tells the following story: "A defendant's lawyer once complained to the judge that the plaintiff wanted "the whole nine balls of wax." Another lawyer told the judge he was, "beating his head against a dead horse."

A judge, after discussing a complicated matter with both counsel, announced they would "take the bull by the horns and let the chips fall where they may." Holy cow.

Kinder cites his all-time favorite cliche which has now become mine. An associate, who was running to court alongside a late and ill-prepared partner, turned to her and panted, "How are you going to get out of this one?" Without breaking stride, the partner said, "I'm just gonna shoot from the seat of my pants."

I leave you with that scene, inside a quiet office, Starbucks in hand.

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