Audition your words to go in, not out
When Lynn Wylie, aka Best Sister Ever, sent me an Unfancy blog post arguing that all you need to look great every day is a capsule wardrobe of 37 items per season, I scoffed.
After all, Dear Reader, Aunt Ann is a maximalist. I love Jessica Harper’s quote in Pennies From Heaven: “It’s not the money; it’s the stuff!” My jewelry box is seven stories high. When someone asked my husband about my hobbies, he replied, “Ann’s sport is dressing for dinner.”
Focus on what goes in, not what goes out.
However, Dear Reader, Aunt Ann is also OCD. I love a place for everything and everything in its place. So when I read how Unfancy suggests you get to 37 garments a season, I was intrigued:
- Empty your closet.
- Review each item in your wardrobe.
- Return to your closet only the garments you absolutely love.
In decades of closet-cleaning-as-entertainment, this is by far the best approach I’ve found. I now have all of the clothes I want to wear, and none of the ones I don’t. Plus, my closet is now uncluttered and gorgeous. Shelves once stuffed with T-shirts and yoga pants now display glittering evening bags and bracelets.
Spring-clean your copy.
So I wondered: Can we adapt this approach to cutting clutter from our copy? Then I remembered: We already have!
This is the approach editing genius George Stenitzer recommends in “An Act of Commission.” When editing, George uses a highlighter to identify what stays in the message instead of a red pen to identify what goes out.
It seems like a simple shift, but it works. So give it a go. If your message winds up as clean and dazzling as my closet, your readers will love you for it.