George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement

Posted: November 19, 2014 by realjdobypr in Press Releases
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George Orwell

We post a lot of music related material here and not much editorial however I’ve had just about enough of receiving artist press material either written like it was for a thesis, or something from a fluffy creative writing assignment. What drivel are these bio writers, press release creators, etc., being taught in school?!!! Certainly not the professional use of the English language. To that end, I thought I would take after my friend Ned whose “Pearls” on his “Gigoid” blog are some of the best thought provoking pieces on the web…beware though…he’s deep.

All that aside, I thought I’d drop a “Pearl” of my own as regards writing to get your message across. Bottom line, you don’t have to be an English professor to write clearly with great impact. I guess it could be described as the “Feng Shui” of writing. That perfect balance of information giving and clarity.

Check out this great article on the writing principles of one of America‘s greatest literary minds, George Orwell:

In our society, the study of language and literature is the domain of poets, novelists, and literary critics. Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting.

But is this an accurate assessment of value?

Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority.In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. No wonder it’s hard to make sense of anything!

This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable. By following Orwell’s 5 rules for effective writing, you’ll distinguish yourself from competitors and clearly communicate your ideas.

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the lineride roughshod overstand shoulder to shoulder withplay into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic.

For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read.

When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.



George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing | PickTheBrain | Motivation and Self Improvement.

  1. gigoid says:

    Good on ya! It’s always good to see language promoted as useful; you’re right about it getting old when it’s used badly…. and, it’s nice to be used as an example of good writing, even if I do tend to use too many long words, and MAYBE a few too many commas…. (wink, wink)

    Good to see ya, brother….

    Ned, aka gigoid, the dubious



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