How I use TextExpander to curb my language

I saw a tweet yesterday that I really liked:

I’m on my own personal quest to banish the word “simply” from all instructional content. Saying “simply” doesn’t make it simple.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to cut down on this sort of phrasing as well.

“Easily” was my personal weak spot - when writing instructions, I would say “you can easily do X”. That’s little comfort to a reader who is trying (and failing) to do X. Similar words are “just” and “clearly”

I have some TextExpander snippets to help train me out of these bad habits. Whenever I type a word like “easily”, it gets replaced with “easily?”. The extra question mark forces me to think – is that word appropriate here?

Often, the answer is yes, so I delete the question mark and carry on typing. But just having that momentary pause is enough. I can no longer get away with slipping it in automatically, without thinking – I have to justify it every time.

(I don’t think this is an original idea, but I can’t remember where I heard it first. Sorry if that was you!)

And this isn’t just for condescending language. You can use this to help reduce any sort of word you want to cut out of your writing. A particularly important one for me is ableist language. I’m very liable to write this without really thinking. Now I have to check myself every time I use it.

This won’t fix your writing overnight. You’ll still write problematic phrases, but it’s a good way to start training yourself out of it. I recommend trying it.