People of the Internet: Please stop writing in clichés

Shove your cliché in there and see what happens.

Shove your cliché in there and see what happens.

Communicating in clichés is nothing to be proud of. It means you are thinking on autopilot, lack creativity, or are not articulate enough to express yourself with originality.

If you pay attention to what you type on message boards and in comment threads, and you pay attention to what other people say on message boards and in comment threads, you should be able to identify when a phrase starts becoming rote. And when everyone has that same cluster of words playing on an endless loop in their brains and can no longer not use it, it has become a cliché.

For those who are unsure: Clichés suck donkey sausage.

Alas, a new cliché has taken over the internet. I hate it more than I hate the 1998 American Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. It is typically expressed when the commenter is exposed to something he dislikes, and it is now being “shoved down my throat” about 50 times a day.

As in, “Why is gay marriage always being shoved down my throat?”

Or, “Why are people always shoving their religious beliefs down my throat?”

Or, “Stop shoving your political views down my throat.”

Or, “Whenever I get an endoscopy, the doctor shoves a black hose down my throat.”

Not your fault dude.

Not your fault dude.

Well, maybe the last one is okay. But otherwise, for the sake of the language, and for the impression you give of yourself to the world, and for my sanity, please stop freaking saying things are being shoved down your throat.  You sound like a moron. If you are angry about other’s beliefs (and if you are like almost everyone on the internet, you are damn angry about something), don’t be a cliché. Find another way to say it.

Warning: If you leave a comment below making a joke that I shoved this post down your throat, I will shake my head with bitter disappointment at your predictability. It will be a withering headshake you won’t soon forget!


In other news, and the real reason I created this post, is to report that I beat my August 31 deadline for completing draft # 2 of my novel. You have the option of reacting in one of more the following ways:

  1. With resentment and envy because you haven’t touched your WiP in months.
  2. By feeling inspired to set and meet your own deadlines, thus bringing you closer to your goal of writing a literary classic or, if not that, a bit of commercial tripe that nevertheless becomes a blockbuster and gets turned into a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Shaquille O’Neal.
  3. With indifference because you lack empathy for the dreams of a humble man who only wants to make people happy.
  4. With derisive laughter because you finish a novel draft every two days.
  5. All of the above (in which case you might need to see a specialist).
  6. Any combination of the above.
  7. Other.


41 responses to “People of the Internet: Please stop writing in clichés

  • LindaGHill

    Okay, why does everyone seem to feel the need to sh… brag about the fact that they’re finishing their drafts before me … oat? hehe
    Kidding – I’ve only got 100 more pages to go before I’m finished my 4th draft!! Fun, ain’t it?
    In defense of my infrequent use of cliches, I spend so much damned time trying to keep them out of my manuscript (I do a little happy dance when one of my characters uses one) that I get lazy. Sue me! <— Ha!

    • ericjbaker

      Eh, it’s OK if one squeaks through once in a while. It’s when a cliché becomes the de rigueur response across an entire population that it becomes a problem.

      I’m only on draft 2, so you’re way ahead of me. By version 4, I might be ready to dig a hole and bury my laptop.

  • allthoughtswork

    7. Other

    I’m too busy visualizing my theory on why GOPers would land on the phrase “shoved down my throat” when referencing the gay lifestyle. Methinks someone doth protest too much.

  • Dave

    Eric – I both resent you and envy your ability to stay on track, though I am feeling inspired to finish a draft eventually. Then again, my level of apathy towards your wonderful accomplishment is matched only by my indifference to getting my damn draft completed. I wish I could laugh at you, but I can’t …

    But seriously, great job, Eric!

  • jdhoward

    Just about any phrase I could think of has been thought of, and I am often in awe of how clever whoever created the catchy phrase must have been, and I also wonder if at first it just rolled off the tongue of that person without any forethought. Maybe so because when I scour my brain to come up with a unique one to express what I want to say, I keep defaulting to some cliché.
    I must get to work on my WIP, too because yes, it has a role for Daniel Day-Lewis.

  • jdhoward

    See, “rolled off the tongue” what else am I supposed to say?

    • ericjbaker

      To be fair, the people who thought of the clichés before they became clichés didn’t have as much competition from other phrases. It’s hard to be the first, but sometimes it’s easy.

      “Rolled off the tongue” You could say, “emerged from his mouth” or even “‘marched down his tongue without effort.” Not great, but with a bit of thought, one can always find a new way. I know you can do it! Those are just the moments in your manuscript that require a bit more synaptic effort.

      Hurry up and finish your novel. Daniel Day-Lewis needs work!


  • skywalkerstoryteller

    Congratulations. And when do I get my PDF copy to become a Beta reader?

    • ericjbaker

      First off, thank you for expressing interest. Your suggestions were invaluable last time.

      I aim to do four drafts before I hand it off. I need to hammer out a few more kinks first. What I’m not going to do is wrestle with every word 20 times before anyone sees it like I used to.

  • Eric Tonningsen

    Kudos, Eric, for having completed draft #2. In a recent post I referenced/acknowledged “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” Am I doomed to the confessional booth?

  • nrhatch

    Stop beating a dead horse! 😛
    And . . . kudos to youdos!

  • Jill Weatherholt

    Let the good times roll! Congratulations, Eric!

  • Arkenaten

    Why are people always shoving Robert Shaw down that shark’s throat?

    What was Option 8 again, please?

    • ericjbaker

      They only shoved Robert Shaw down his throat once. You just keep watching the same movie over and over.

      Option 8 was “Everybody Dance Now” by C&C Music Factory

      • Arkenaten

        lol…Major thumbs up on the 2nd draft.
        How do you feel about it?

        • ericjbaker

          I was happy to discover the cleanliness of my prose. It was pretty refined for a first draft. Now that I’ve reached the end of Draft 2, I feel like the characters’ actions are consistent and fleshed out. The pacing is breakneck, which can be good or bad. I’m slightly concerned over potential gaps in spacial understanding for readers. There are multiple locations and no one stays in the same place for very long. I want readers to feel the same sense of displacement the characters feel, but people don’t always “get” why you are making their experience unpleasant on purpose.

          Thanks for asking!

  • livelytwist

    “Communicating in clichés is nothing to be proud of.”
    But it is nothing to be ashamed of either if you are typing on message boards and in comment threads, in my view.

    I will take extra care when writing a blog post, but when commenting, I relax. I think that people commenting in ‘that’ kind of chat room are entitled to their cliches. The nature of the forum informs my language. Okay that’s that, the shark can bite me now! 🙂

    In other news, way to go Eric! Now let me use the cliche that tires me: Amazing! 😀

    • ericjbaker

      But your comments are always good, and you don’t write in clichés! Your whimsy is still more articulate than the average Yahoo! reader’s best material.

      Of course, casual comments don’t need to sound like Oscar Wilde, but you know what I mean. When a phrase become so ubiquitous that people don’t even bother to think about other ways to say things anymore. Maybe I should stop reading people’s comments on the internet. They are horrifying and fascinating at once.

  • L. Marie

    Congrats on meeting your goal! I didn’t set one for my new novel, so I don’t have to spew vitriol your way. I was trying to think of a cliché I see a lot, but couldn’t think of one besides, “I’ll be there with bells on.”

  • Kevin Brennan

    I wish you’d stop injecting your opinions into my digestive tract with a large plastic syringe.

  • Janna G. Noelle

    I think that clichés are what results when non-writers try to write figuratively. It’s actually hard work to compare things to other things in creative ways.

    Clearly what’s needed is some sort of figurative language boot camp for non-writers. Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone (eh!) and have it run by the grammar Nazis so they’ll be too busy to harp over every mistaken instance of “its” vs “it’s” (as if the presence a misplaced apostrophe somehow invalidates an otherwise cogent argument).

    Congrats on finishing draft 2. You’re on fire! What comes next? (don’t say “water”).

    • ericjbaker

      There must be a balance between expecting people to communicate as if they’re capable of critical thought and hammering them for routine typos. I’ve made quite a few of the latter, often owing to my three-finger typing technique and impatience.

      Thank you. Next: I’ve transferred the file from my super secret laptop with no internet to my non-secret laptop (the one I use for work, blogging, and social media). After a few days of decompression, I’ll start draft three, where I do a lot of routine fact checking while looking for further opportunities to refine characters and improve flow, come up with chapter titles, etc. And try to come up with a damn title!

      Thanks for asking.

  • gipsika

    hehehe! Well written, that author! And well done about finishing your novel draft. A question, why 31 August? Is this a self-imposed deadline or do Greater Things Lie In Wait?

    • ericjbaker

      Well, I had been procrastinating (surprise) for too damn long on this project. In the spring I set an arbitrary, but public, deadline of 8/31 to shame myself into action. I ended up finishing the first draft in two months, so I decided to push myself and keep the August deadline for the second draft. I’m pretty invested at this point, so I don’t feel like I need any more deadlines.

      Thanks for asking!

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