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.

marketing

Why I Don’t Want You to Buy My Latest Book—Yet

One of the biggest challenges indie authors face is that of marketing. We ask ourselves a million questions when putting together a marketing plan, often with answers that are hazy at best. Who is my audience? Where do they find books? What marketing services should I...
Whizzers

Authors’ Pandemic Sales and The Dubious Metric of “Necessities” Vs. “Luxuries”

​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...
spirituality

Spirituality in the Fictional World

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post called Talking About A Metaphysical Work where I tried to discuss spirituality in fiction. At least, that's what I thought I was doing. See, I had just published my fourth novel, Whizzers, and I knew I needed to promote it. I had a...
characters

It All Starts With Character

“Sahno offers a compelling vision of a community whose need for companionship and support in the face of life's struggles is stirring.” “The characters are deep, well thought out…” “I read this novel in a few short days, drawn in by a believable plot and characters...
exhausted

“Broke Down And Busted In The Promised Land”

Man, are you exhausted or what? I know I am. We all are, right? In fact, I was thinking of titling today's blog post Exhausted, but then the phrase "broke down and busted" drifted into my mind. It comes from a song by a band called The Hilltops, which eventually...
genre writer

The Challenge of Writing in a Different Genre for the First Time

I’ve never been what you’d call a genre writer. In fact, I’ve said this for years: “I’m not a genre writer.” Problem is, we live in an age where everything must be classified. It’s weird. I’m a guy who grew up listening to a lot of rock (the genre formerly known as...
giving

Why I Think Giving Your Work Away Is (Mostly) A Bad Idea

​Free books—who doesn’t love that idea, right? Me. I don’t love that idea. In fact, I think it sucks. Now, you might wonder: why, Mike, are you so against free books? I mean, don’t you want more people to read? You’re not against libraries, are you? No, I’m not...
drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...
service

What’s It All About, Anyway?

​As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don't have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn't matter as much as how you do what you do. —Elisabeth...
relax

Five Ways to Relax During Quarantine

​I thought a good blog post this week would be on how to unwind—not just during our current era of quarantine and “social distancing,” but on any day off. What my wife calls a holiday. That could be any time, right? I’ve been running so hard lately, I've barely had...