Last week’s blog post was all about business. This week, I’m still going to talk about business a little, but really it’s more about writing. And if there’s one lesson we should take to heart in writing – in fact, in all our communication – it’s Keep It Simple.

Today I’m hard at work on a project with a deadline that’s coming up shortly. I was transcribing an interview for it, and the interviewee literally used the phrase “minimizing unnecessary resource utilization.”

Okay, don’t laugh. This is a highly intelligent, educated, well-paid professional. Someone at the top of his game, who’s probably more respected in his field than many of the rest of us ever will be. But still, you have to ask: What exactly does minimizing unnecessary resource utilization mean, anyway? Well, you probably know, don’t you? It means reducing waste. You know, like the waste of unnecessary words.

I don’t mean to be harsh here, but come on. First of all, I have never liked the word utilize. I’d be fine if it were stricken from all dictionaries tomorrow. The word use is perfectly fine, and there’s no real need to ever replace it with a falsely high-falutin’ one like utilize. Of course, this interview had to do with health care and the insurance industry. So a phrase like resource utilization or utilization review wouldn’t have caused me to bat an eye.

But You Like Big Words, Don’t You?

The larger point I want to make here is this: I’m a writer, but that doesn’t mean I have to decorate all my sentences with “impressive-sounding” words. I was in love with language as far back as when I was eight, and my favorite word was antidisestablishmentarianism. I didn’t know what the hell it meant (who does?), but it was my favorite word. Through grammar school and high school, I wrote increasingly complex texts. Fast forward to my early 20s, when I had to learn some life lessons in the school of hard knocks. The way the lesson was presented was Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS), though I’ve since heard it toned down to the friendlier, kinder Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. However you want to put it, the bottom line is don’t overcomplicate everything. Make it easy to understand. In speech, in writing…in life in general.

Today I probably keep my writing simpler than ever. I don’t know how I’m going to clean up that “minimizing unnecessary resource utilization” phrase. But I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t sound pompous, and won’t make the reader stumble.

And that’s why it’s important to utilize use the services of a professional writer, folks.

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