Confession of an Author and Freelance Writer Addicted to That


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Question: What if you’re an author and freelance writer addicted to a particular word? I have a confession: I can’t stop using “that” in my writing. I dream about that all of the time. I think about how many times I can use that. Finally, I see that in magazines, newspapers, marketing materials, books, and eBooks. I can’t get that out of mind. Help!

Answer: The first step is admitting you have a problem with that. Second, realize you’re not alone. Many freelance writers, authors, and bloggers are obsessed with that. Finally, there are other words you can use besides that.

Many writers have overused words at one point in their writing careers. For example, some travel writers will confess to overusing typical travel words such as azure, breathtaking, cramped, enchanted, enchanting, magical, and other words to describe the places they’ve visited; hotels and hostels they’ve stayed in. The good news is you can overcome an addiction to a certain word as long as you know and pay attention the word(s) you overuse. Keep writing references nearby such as dictionary, encyclopedia, thesaurus, AP or Chicago Manual of Style, and others. You’ll be able to find another word in place of that.

The next time you sit down to write be aware of your tendency to use that. When you feel the urge to type that, resist it. Walk away from the laptop or iPad. Don’t give that power over you; otherwise it will tighten its grip. If you don’t find the strength to use another word, you’ll be doomed to use that in your writing forever. Clients and editors will be disgusted by that and won’t read your writing. You don’t want that — do you?


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