I sometimes think about writing in terms of grass and weeds. The grass is the good, essential content. The weeds are filler words: just, so, though, like, that, anyway. My own weeds usually are “just,” “though,” and “that.” I’m self-conscious about the words. I look for them, and, if I see them, I consider what actions I should take.
I don’t want to kill the grass, so I try to avoid weed killer. In my experience, weed killer tends to kill more than weeds. It also kills anything good and pleasant – namely, the grass and any flowers or tree branches that somehow end up being targets of the weed killer.
I also don’t see the point in trimming the weeds. Deleting a word here and there may work, but it doesn’t necessarily make the yard look any better, and it doesn’t – pun intended – get to the root of the problem. Removing weeds is as much about improving the existing yard as it about eradicating the thistles and dandelions.
I’m more likely to get dirty. I grab a needle-nose shovel and some gloves. I dig at the root of the weed. Once it’s not hanging by its last, clingy, stubborn root, I pull the offending thing from the earth. The result isn’t pretty; the yard is pockmarked, but at least the weeds have been uprooted. I now can concern myself with making my yard a place of beauty rather than a home for weeds.
How do you weed your writing?