Monday, February 28, 2011

Cliches, Or, Why Has Originality Done Made That Left Turn And Left My Crying In My Tequila?

On Monday (2/21), I had alluded to the fact that the opening sentence of that post, "where you couldn't think of anything to write about", was a blog cliche. Now I bet you're asking the screen, "G, why would you say such a thing.

Go ahead, ask.

"G, why would you say such a thing?"

Glad you asked.

Ya see--hey, wait a minute, what do you think you're doing?? Put down that chainsaw!! Stop!! Wait!! HE--

We interrupt that preceding paragraph with a special news---AAARRRRRGGHHHH!!!


When a writer uses them in a story, unless he or she is very good at what they're doing, chances are that the writer comes off like a lazy slob who thinks that "I are ready."*** is a proper sentence.

When a blogger uses them, unless he or she is very good at what they're doing, chances are that the blogger comes off like a lazy slob who thinks that the opening 87 words of this post is incredibly funny.

At one time or another, I've had a tendency to be overly reliant on what I like to call "blog cliches". "Blog cliches" are used whenever the blogger is trying to be funny/cute/intelligent but can't quite come up with anything original to use.

Want proof? Just look at the first 87 words of this post for proof. For those of you who have been reading this blog for as little as this year (two months), you've probably picked up on the fact that I recycle an incredible amount of phrases.

Think I'm kidding? In addition to having the following phrases pop up yet again in a blog post: a variation of me telling you to ask a particular question; which was followed by "go ahead and ask"; which was followed by a variation of the particular question; which was followed by "glad you asked"; which was followed by me attacking myself in print and which was finally followed by me with a variation of "we interrupt our programing with a special late breaking news bulletin", I've also used quite extensively the following other phrases:

"Yapple dapple."
"Howdy do."
"Indeedie doodie."

Yah, I is just hot bed of originality, in that I can't seem to go more than one sentence without using a personal blog cliche. See, I just did it again with the preceding sentence.


Look, there is only one way to cure this debilitating disease and that is to write something completely original without using a cliche. Problem is, life in general and our day-to-day activities specifically often can amount to one big fat cliche whether we like it or not, or realize it or not.

Think I'm kidding?

Okay, how many out there have to do some kind of writing on a daily or weekly basis? Well, did you know that without realizing it, your writing can often become one big fat cliche? Have to write some business correspondence? Use a template or pre-formatted form letter? Have to create a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly report? Guess what, you're hip deep in cliches.

The same point that everyone who fancies themselves to be a talking head, legitimate or otherwise, drums into the cerebellum of every wannabe and couldabe and newbie and established writer which is that you don't use cliches in your stories, you shouldn't really use in your blogging.

I realize that it's wickedly tough to be original without using cliches as a crutch for your blogging, and I know that I've failed miserably at it (well, maybe I'm still sitting in Peppermint Patty land), but there is hope just the same.

What hope?

Damned if I know, because I've fallen yet again into another one of my personal cliches: the cliche of meandering off down the solid-brown-brick-which-costs-5K-per road trying to find a proper ending to this post.

Of course, I could close out this post with one of my all time fave personal cliches: the query at the end of the post asking my readers if they experienced anything similar to what I'm going through/explaining/bloviating/pontificating with this post.


Did ya?

Like experience, blah-blah-blah-blah-nudge-nudge-wink-wink-yadda-yadda-yadda-foaming-at-the-mouth-until-I-fall-over?*

Cliches. Because they do barf me out and gag me with a spoon. Like totally.**

*Jack Palance in his version of "A Christmas Carol"; Eric Idle & Terry Jones; Seinfeld; Graham Chapman. **Moon Zappa. ***Arnold Roth (cartoonist in the 70's mostly with S.I. and Playboy)


  1. Peppermint Patty land?

    I think I use the sideways smile thing too much. Believe it or not - I edit it out more often that not. :)

  2. I was commenting to Lana last night about something similar, the overuse in movies of the phrase, "no your other left." It's gettin pretty old now.

  3. LOL, I don't regard your entries as cliches, but you can claim them if you want. I just look at it as that particular person's personality or humor.

  4. Lynn: Peppermint Patty land is the land where D-'s reign supreme.

    I think one of my overuses is the elipses. Those fun filled periods I seem to tag on the end of every single thing I happen to write electronically (e-mail, blogs, FB).

    Charles: I haven't heard that particular phrase used much since I stopped watching the Three Stooges, but I do get your point.

    Movie cliches have a tendency to be the worse because they show the sign of very weak writing as they go for the lowest common denominator, especially in sequels.

    Carla: True,they can often be considered part and parcel of a person's sense of humor. But sometimes an over-reliance of those mechanicisms can turn one's humor very stale.

    Fortunately though, I do enjoy beating myself up in print. :D

  5. clever, witty, snappy, reparte...

    sometimes it is only as cliche as it is to you...

    the difference between you and the reader is some of the cliches are what make the relationship work...

    some redundancy is necessary...

    the other side is we are our own worst critic...

    just my spin...

  6. Bruce: True, we are our own worse critic (at least I am), and yes it's also true that you need redundancy to make the relationship work between yourself and the reader.

    That being said, you do have to a fine line when you're using cliches, in that while using them judiciously you can have that great connect with a ready, but an over reliance on them, can often kill any connect between yourself and the reader.

  7. and that is the quandry.

    to the newbie, they are not cliches...

    and you are so right, the fine line is there...

    i seem to find the line is blurred when i am enamored of a "new" cliche...

    the trouble again comes up when i am no longer enamored but i am still reliant...

    some times it is easier to just spew trivial banter than it is to write a solid, well written, blog..

    and some of the blogs i have seen are just that, but the followers seem to eat it up.

    it may have something to do with the fact that you are actually a writer...

    and not just a blogger...

    and blogger is not meant to be used in a negative sense...

  8. Bruce: Thanks for the compliment.

    I probably didn't really kick in using cliches with my writing (which I've toned down considerably) or my blogging until I started blogging in '08.

    Prior to blogging I was in the chat rooms where it was easier to be original and colourful with your repartee.

    Once I started blogging, after the initial newness and shinyness wore off, it became essential to me to continue being original and slowly work in the vast amount of cliches that I have in my reportoire.

    I haven't seen the overkill on your blog with cliches, which is probably due to the fact that I've only started reading your blog this year, but like you and others have said, if you can make sound fresh without making it seem like your beating the crap out of a dead horse each and every time, then that's 75% of the battle won.

  9. Next time I am stumped, you'll know because I'll open with "Yapple dapple" :-).

  10. I only see one solution to this problem. You're going to have to start blogging in another language. Then everything you write will be freshly-minted, hot-off-the-presses original! I recommend French because then I'd still be able to read your blog and comment. Zut alors!*
    (*French cliche).

  11. 'tis hard to maintain originality of you blog 3 to 4 times a week for years on end which is why i keep shouting Lettuce is the Devil every opportunity I get.

  12. Jewel: I started using "yapple dapple" from an old Hanna Barbara cartoon about Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie". One of the characters would also say "yapple dapple" just before performing a messed up magic spell.

    S.R.: Not sure if I could do French, but with Babel Fish translator, I should be able to do a barely passable French blog.

    But, Spanish! Ah yes, Spanish! I could do Spanish! Let's habla espanol? eh, eh?

  13. Travis: It is difficult at that. However, ya gotta remember that this is actually the second major content tweaking I've done to this blog.

    When I first started, I did a punishing pace of two per day every other day. That lasted until the fall of '08 I believe, when I switched to one every other day.

    That lasted until spring 2010 when I switched to my current pace of three per week with the occasional bonus on Sunday.

    It is amazing though that I've managed to stay original about 98% of the time.

    And yes, sometimes, Lettuce is The Devil.

    Other times, it's just the Devil's pinch hitter.

  14. I must be extremely lazy because I periodically use very similar bits to the first 87 words (taking your word for it...too lazy to actually count them) funny and have used similar bits several times.

    Cliches are sometimes a good thing though. They help us find comfort and familiarity in a world that sometimes rejects it.

  15. Thats Tonza Cliche`s!
    I've come to think of it as trademark G stuff, due to not reading other blogs usuing those same ones all the time.
    Even Steve King has his own Ka...

    I'm using cliches in a post today-

  16. Darth: I briefly copied and pasted to a Word document to find out how many I had in the opening paragragh.

    They can be funny if used judiciously and within the proper context of the rest of the paragraph(s), but sometimes people just use them for the sake of using them for precisely the reason you've just mentioned: comfort and familiarity.

  17. Snaggle: Thanks for the compliment.

    Yeah, cliches can make or break a person.

    But as you've so succinctly stated, it's quite possible to take a cliche and put a personal twist on it to make it your own.

  18. I think you're too hard on yourself and others G. For most people it's just a blog not a masterclass in writing. We all use cliches every day in speech and I actually find it annoying sometimes to keep being told "don't use a cliche" when natural speech is littered with them! We all have our personal follibiles and things that make us laugh or otherwise and I've no doubt that my predispositon to be silly is probably tedious to some! You know, I refer to my Readers but I actually write for myself - if you're not doing it for those reasons what are you doing it for?

    Personally, I like the way you ask questions on your blog- as a result this a more interactive blog than most - and I enjoy reading the comments as well as the posts. So I hope you're not going to stop asking the questions!

  19. Jane: Thanks.

    I usually enjoy both talking about myself in the third person and having conversations with myself on the blog, because it does seem to be very threapeutic for me to do so.

    I don't think that I'm being hard on myself or hard on others. Granted, the post was about being original and not being overly reliant in using cliches, but I think it was more of an observational thing than anything else.

    I agree that everyday language and deeds are often salt and peppered with cliches, but I'm just saying that if you use them judiciously while writing a blog (and yes, blogging ain't a masterclass on writing and I'm a prime example of that statemetn), you can make them sound fresh and original.

  20. Er... How do you say "I don't speak Spanish" in Spanish?

    No es bueno!

  21. S.R.: Hmmm...I suppose I could learn how to speak Canadian circa the mid 80's when Bob & Doug McKenzie were popular here in the States, eh?


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