(last updated on April 29, 2014)
When I’m writing on a topic I’m not yet familiar with, I have a tendency to pepper my writing with wussy phrases like I have a tendency to and not yet familiar with. The passive voice…bleah!
I don’t know [where this comes from]… [it might] be [some] charming artifact of my upbringing, as I was raised by genuine missionaries in a [somewhat] academic household. [Sometimes I wish that] my writing sounded more deliberate and less cover-my-ass. I’m better now, [but] [it still] creeps in [from time to time]. There’s a fine line between being humble and sounding like a homesick puppy.
I was discussing this with another friend of mine, pointing out the I hopes and maybes that “swept the legs” out from under his otherwise fine prose. The solution: make use of a much-hated feature in Microsoft Word to retrain our writing reflexes!
How? Use AutoCorrect to replace wishy-washy expressions in your writing! Go to the AutoCorrect Options (under Tools) and enter phrase pairs like these:
- I HOPE becomes As the Lord is my witness, you can bet your SWEET ASS…
MAYBE becomes if I had a nickel for every FREAKING TIME this happened I’d be a FREAKING MILLIONAIRE…
A TENDENCY TO becomes abso-freaking-lutely kiss-my-ass and hope-to-die WILL…
p>The shock and horror of seeing these phrases sprout unbidden in your Word document—in that letter to your sweet old grandmother, for example—will quickly train you against using those wimpy phrases ever again. You’ll find new ways to avoid them, because the probability of remembering how to turn off AutoCorrect is really low given the sheer number of “features” clogging up Microsoft Office these days.
Ah, the power of negative reinforcement! I love the smell of Microsoft in the morning! And there are other applications, like for the harried men on Match.com who must send out hundreds of “special” form emails every day:
- U R HOT becomes not only are you beautiful and intelligent, but in all my travels throughout this world I have NEVER come across a profile more delightful than yours. Come! FLY WITH ME!
Have fun! As the Lord is my witness, you can bet your SWEET ASS this is useful :-)
ASIDE: Maybe the hate is unwarranted on my part, but I can’t stand AutoCorrect fiddling with my sentences and bulleted list items. It wreaks havoc when you’re writing technical documentation with mixed-case capitalization. I’m also not a fan of automatic misspelling correction…how will you learn that you’re spelling things wrong if it’s doing it behind the scene? That’s just the way I feel, so I usually turn it off after the irritation builds to the boiling point.