Are Clichés Okay?

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I have written blogs about writing before and I am about to do it again, shamelessly. I wrote about writing tips that no one has heard of and wrote about editing. This time around, I am writing about clichés and my stance on the fickle phrases.

We read them, write them, speak them.

We love them and hate them all at the same time.

But should we use them as frequently as we do?

Clichés are overused phrases that have lost their true meaning over a long period of time, essentially through multiple generations. Using clichés in writing is considered amateur, since what you are writing is essentially meaningless and unoriginal. It is redundant and does not add anything to your writing, as the belief goes.

But does that mean we should never use any cliché? Here’s my stance…

There are hundreds and hundreds of clichés, but even though they are all overused, they are overused in varying degrees. For example, a bed of roses and third time’s a charm is used more than a bee in her bonnet or upset the applecart.

Clichés, while essentially meaningless, do at times hold a sense of description. Such as, the dozens of bright red roses visualized in ‘a bed of roses.’ Or emerald grass and an abundance of clover shades in ‘the grass is greener on the other side.’ Or shades of intense black, furious skies, and brutal storms with a mysterious and mischievous tone in ‘a dark and stormy night.’

At the same time, if you have to use a cliché to describe a feeling or setting, are you really connecting to the five senses in the best way possible? Are you truly being the best writer you can be?

My most despised cliché is, ‘a lump in the throat’ describing that raw feeling when tears form in one’s eye and the crying is trying to be pushed aside. When it comes to the books and authors I read, that phrase is used numerous times and I cringe as my eyes trace the words.

As writers, I feel like cliché are phrases we should not use and/or rely on to boost our writing or to just add a few extra characters in the word count. Some old-fashioned things are meant to remain in the past and I believe that clichés are one of them…debatably.

So, are clichés okay?

I answer that with a no. But it is a tiny no. You see, if you really feel it necessary to use a cliché, please pick it wisely. Don’t feel inclined to use the one that pops into your mind first. Explore the array of clichés available to you. Just because the words that find us first exist does not mean we have to use them.

Secondly, if you feel the slightest imbalance as you use a cliché, the chances are high that you can swap it out with another phrase, one that you come up with in the moment that pulls from your own creative mind and personal writing voice and style.

Just make sure you are being creative with words, whether a cliché is used or not. Because that is what creative writing is after all.

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