Keep it simple.


I once managed a junior writer who had a really great attitude and was always a go-getter. However her fatal flaw was that she tried to prove how great a writer she was by over-writing everything to death. If she could say it in 5 words, she’d do it in 15. Instead of using clear, straightforward sentences, she used flowery language and jargon. Try as I might to teach her that it’s ok to be simple, she never really understood that fact and as a result I don’t believe she lasted long in advertising.

I thought of her when I read this excellent article by Derek Walker.

It’s a great reminder that the way to prove you’re really smart or to prove that you’re a great communicator is to be… simple. Because simple is really difficult to do. I love this from his article:

“Simple is the secret to the most effective advertising. It isn’t about being ultra creative or highly intelligent…”

Too often we get caught up in doing something cool or something crazy creative when being simple, clear and straightforward is what’ll really be effective.


2 Responses to “Keep it simple.”

  1. 1 Andrew


    Thank you for sharing.

    I’m a fresh junior writer. Last year, my professor would always mark up my copy. Papers would return mangled and blood red. The point: most of what I was writing was showy self-indulgence. I was trying desperately to prove myself and, in the process, did quite the opposite. “Get to the point, what does this mean, what are you trying to say?” I cannot be more thankful that I had a professor to point out the nonsense.

    I’m still working at paring my copy down. It’s a very tedious process. And articles like this and Mr. Walker’s are the type that I refer to every morning before sitting down at the keyboard.

    Thanks again.


  2. 2 dognpony

    Andrew, you have no idea how psyched I am to get a comment like this. Awesome.

    I think every writer goes through it. It takes a while to be confident enough in your strategy and thinking to not feel like you have to show off with your writing. But the best advice I can give any writer is: Write like you speak.

    Most people don’t talk in flowery, overdone language, but plenty of people are still funny, clever, interesting and compelling.

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