There’s nothing wrong with using this type of cliche, so long as: (1) you recognize that you are using a shopworn expression; (2) you recognize therefore that you are sacrificing originality to save time; (3) you don’t overdo it (say, more than one cliche per 1,000 words of finished copy).
But there is another type of cliche – the counterproductive cliche. You should never use this type of cliche. The ghostwriter Jeff Haden (pictured) gives ten examples in an excellent piece in Inc. magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
“Failure is not an option.”The Takeaway: I urge you to read the rest of the article. You have probably heard all ten cliches, especially if you work in business; now find out why you should not use them.
This one is often used by a leader who gets frustrated and wants to shut down questions about a debatable decision or a seemingly impossible goal: “Listen, folks, failure is simply not an option.” (Strikes table or podium with fist.)
Failure is always a possibility. Just because you say it isn’t doesn’t make it so.
Don’t reach for a platitude. Justify your decision. Answer the hard questions.
If you can’t, maybe your decision isn’t so wise after all.