3 Simple Steps To Cut Flabby Writing

I love simplicity.

The acronym   K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) rings with truth.

However, as a writer, I admit I’ve let flabby prose spoil clarity.

When I talk about simplicity  in writing, I think of an exchange between  Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The exchange took place over this Thoreau quote:

” Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!”

To which Emerson replied, ” One ‘simplify’ would have sufficed.”

Words, written and spoken are tools we use to teach, persuade, and sell.

Learning to trim the fat from our prose makes it easier to get our point across cleanly, and clearly.

How do you tone up your writing muscle?

1. Read this blog post by Julia McCoy : 15+ Worthless Words to Cut to Improve Your Readers’ Experience

Julia McCoy is a self taught serial content marketer, blogger, author, and entrepreneur.

I took Julia’s article to heart. I printed the article to use when I edit what I’ve written. Keep it close, use it often.

By eliminating her list of flabby  words  my prose improved. My sentence structure changed. I used fewer complex sentences. I forced myself to rewrite sentences to remove connecting words like “and”.

Am I perfect? No.

I intend to continue to improve.

2.  Find a partner to be your second set of eyes.

My coach fills that role regarding my email marketing. He reads each email before it’s released to my audience. His critiques sharpen my pen, strengthen my eye, and build my discipline.

You don’t have to hire a coach.  Find a business partner or a friend willing to fill the role.

Be careful.

You want positive constructive criticism.

3.  Be specific.

Use exact numbers. Don’t round up. Don’t use a generality, find a specific.

Don’t say I have around 500 people on my list. Say “I have 497 people on my list.”

Don’t say I started online marketing some when in 2016  say I started marking online September the twelfth 2016. If you don’t recall the exact date, use the month.

If you follow these three simple steps you will notice a rapid improvement in your ability to communicate clearly.


Simplify, simplify, simplify.



Nick Grimshawe



Leave a comment
  • Nick,

    Guilty, I may have broken most of the rules in the article you mentioned. I see from this post that you are using the techniques, And although, pardon me, it is not great prose it gets the points across. I know that is what you were striving for.

    And thanks for the repost of my Listening To Readers piece. I will have to go back to see how it measures up to Julia McCoy’s rules.


  • Hi Mike, Yep striving is the keyword. Cutting the flab helps but it doesn’t do everything. It did make a big difference though so I wanted to share.


  • Thanks for this article Nick. I think I also tend to add unneccessary words. I’ll check out Julia’s article. Thanks for sharing!

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