Theresa L. Goodrich

Hi [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]- Nobody likes Yes Men, so let's get rid of them.

Published about 1 year ago • 1 min read

Hi Reader,

One of the most talked-about sessions from my travel writing workshop is the one where we excise the dreaded cliché.

Students lament: "I can never say 'hidden gems' again!" "I was by the ocean and heard 'crashing waves' - DOH! Can't say that!"

That session sticks with them, which means they become better writers.

Why do they get so riled up?

Probably because I make statements like these:

Clichés are the bane of a travel writer’s existence.
They’re easy.
They’re lazy.
Clichés are the Yes Men of writing. They tell you what you think you want to hear, but they don’t actually say anything.

I'm not alone in my disdain for overused phrases. In On Writing, Stephen King says they make "you look either lazy or ignorant."


Way back in the 1500s, Michel de Montaigne claimed: "It is always easier to draw on the storehouse of memory than to find something original to say."

And we know we've got a lot of clichés stored in our memory.

So how do you stop using them? How do you escape looking "either lazy or ignorant?" (Stephen Kind's words, not mine!)

The first step is to be aware of what you're writing. I should say, be aware of what you're editing. I'm a fan of dirty first drafts, otherwise known as getting the words out and cleaning them up later. When you do that, you're most likely going to have a few overused phrases. They're easy and they're, as de Montaigne said, in your storehouse of memory. You know them and they appear without effort.

As you're editing, pay attention to your word choice. Is that town really quaint? Do those waves really crash? Is that attraction really a hidden gem?

Once you recognize a cliché, take time to rewrite it so it puts a picture in your readers' minds. For example, instead of "snow-capped mountain," how about this:

The craggy summit clawed out of the snow banks like a drowning man fighting for the surface.

A bit more evocative, eh?

This month's live training is all about these dreaded turns of phrase. If you want to avoid clichés like the plague, sign up and you, too, will be painting real pictures instead of writing words that say nothing. It's March 28 at 1pm CST and, as always, only $9.

Until next week...

Happy Writing!

Theresa L. Goodrich

p.s. Sign up here for the live training on Tuesday, March 28 at 1pm CST.

p.p.s. If you're in the travel niche, I'm offering an AMAZING deal. 75% off Travel Writing Mastery. Check it out here.

Don't want these quick tips? Click here.

Theresa L. Goodrich

Theresa L. Goodrich is the force behind, a site dedicated to telling in-depth stories of magnificent, quirky, and unique places. Theresa is an Emmy-winning author who is slightly obsessed with road trips, camping, and history. She’s turned these passions into the Two Lane Gems book series, first-person travelogues highlighting the beauty and diversity of the U.S.A. She's also a contributor and publisher of Midwest Road Trip Adventures, 2nd Edition and Midwest State Park Adventures. She’s the author of Living Landmarks of Chicago, Planning Your Perfect Road Trip, and the Alex Paige cozy mystery series. She's spoken across the country at the Travel and Adventure Show and the Chicago Auto Show, mentored at Bloghouse, and leads the Midwest Travel Network's Writing Workshop. She’s driven, often literally, to inspire you to get off the interstates and explore the towns and communities that make this country a constant and welcome surprise.

Read more from Theresa L. Goodrich
Torn wrapping on cover of Betrayed at the Beach, revealing the word "beach"

Hi Reader! Hoo boy. I am way overdue for an update. I didn't realize I hadn't updated you at all about Betrayed at the Beach. Whoops. Fortunately, I've got good news. The book's practically writing itself and I am having SO MUCH FUN. I think you're going to love this one, especially some new characters that I have a major crush on. (I've got an excerpt below, but don't skip to it just yet.) The official launch date is July 15. Yes, that's coming up fast, but that's the beauty of being an...

10 months ago • 3 min read

Hello Reader! And hello June! This is going to be one busy month. Tomorrow, Mr. TLT and I are heading to Galena, Illinois, for a quick overnight. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, a.k.a. our happy place (or one of them), recently renovated their spa and we've been invited to check it out. Tough job, I know, but the timing's great because I ended up in urgent care last weekend due to a muscle spasm. Lemme tell you, THOSE are no fun. I'm ready for a massage, some farm-to-table dining, and a nice walk...

11 months ago • 1 min read

Hello Reader! The subject line says it all. Friday was National Road Trip Day, so to celebrate, I'm practically giving away Planning Your Perfect Road Trip. Today through Monday, you can get this step-by-step guide to hittin' the road for only $5. It comes complete with 35+ printable planning pages, to help make planning your next adventure a breeze. If you're thinking of taking a road trip, get this book! I mean, it's less than a movie ticket, a cup of coffee, a fast-food sandwich, or a pint...

11 months ago • 1 min read
Share this post