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One way to keep your writing fresh and original is to avoid over-used expressions called clichés.

Keep in mind that clichés were at one time striking, clever and original. That’s how they became clichés — they were so memorable and vivid that others began using them in their speech and writing. But eventually these expressions grew familiar and lost their freshnes. They ceased to make people stop and think.

Good writing should surprise us. It should make connections that we wouldn’t ordinarily make. When a writer tells us it is “raining cats and dogs” we don’t wonder about his meaning anymore. We have heard the expression so often that we pass over it without a blink. We might be more interested, however, if a writer had said, “the clouds were wrung like enormous sponges" or "the rain fell like divine judgment." 

Many clichés are so familiar, we don’t even realize we are using them. They spill onto our pages because they come comfortably prepackaged. They say what needs to be said without requiring any mental effort. In other words, they are easy, and they are comforting in their familiarity. If you want to write with vigor and originality, you’ve got to break the cliché habit.

Below are some clichés to avoid. This is by no means a complete list. The English language includes hundreds, maybe even thousands of clichés. As you write, pay attention to how often you are tempted to use overly familiar expressions like these. When possible, resist the urge, and come up with new and interesting ways of communicating your ideas.