We writers know that we should avoid cliches.

What are cliches? Cliches are overused phrases. Those that spring instantly to mind are “thin as a rake”, “raining cats and dogs”, “all and sundry”, “pretty as a picture” or “quiet as a mouse”. The list goes on …

Cliches are dynamic. Cliches from long ago may become fresh and original now. That’s because no one uses them now. Similarly, what was once fresh and original, can become cliches because they’ve become overused.

Two examples are the phrases “Fast forward” and “The jury is out”. These drive me nuts. Here’s how they’re often used:

“Fast forward to 2008 and Zainal was now a wealthy investment banker. But the jury is out on whether he will make it to the list of 10 ten richest bankers in the country.”

Both phrases were original once. Not anymore.

I lose total interest in any article I’m reading as soon as those words hit me. Maybe I’m a bit extreme. But, to me, they’re off putting. No matter how interesting the article. I find them time and time again in the Australian newspapers. I wonder if the journalists can come up with a better phrase.

We should avoid cliches as they make our writing seem unoriginal. It makes our writing seem lazy. Instead of a cliche, find some other phrase to express your thought and feelings.

Which cliches drive you nuts?