Simplicity is the Theme for December

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words. (George Eliot)

If you’ve been following Confident Writing for any time now you’ll probably have realised that I’m a fan of simple writing styles.

Simplicity doesn’t just make for the finest of language but helps you to capture big ideas, express powerful emotions, and get clear on your point.

You’ll find most readers count simplicity as a virtue too :-)

So I’m delighted that simplicity is going to be the theme for December:

Simplicity: Writing with plain, simple language.  The value of brevity.  Learning how to keep it simple.  Unlearning grammar rules in order to write with clarity and confidence.  Sticking to the point.  Being clear what you’re trying to say.  Saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

It seems appropriate for this wintry time of year (here) - lots of bright light and clear outlines.

Coming up I’ve got:

  • More great quotes
  • Another group writing project
  • Plus a whole lot more I haven’t got round to planning yet!

Is there anything in particular that you’d like me to cover as part of ‘simplicity’?

PS If you’re new to Confident Writing, you should know that I write to a monthly theme.  They’re mainly based on the ingredients of confident writing, but I also use them to explore new avenues by using themes like “leaps and bounds“, or “experimenting“, which has just drawn to a close.

Joanna Paterson

Journal and writing coach, teaching ways to notice and capture the wonder of the everyday, through writing, poetry, and photography.

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24 Responses to “Simplicity is the Theme for December”

  1. On December 1, 2008 at 10:00 am Jim Murdoch responded with... #

    Simple is not always the easy option. It takes no real thought to pour out your thoughts on a blog - people to it every day - but it takes time (and dare I say a little skill) to refine what you actually say so that it equals what you wanted to say in the first place.

  2. On December 1, 2008 at 10:32 am Ulla Hennig
    Twitter: ullahe
    responded with... #

    I think the big challenge is to express complicated content in a simple writing style - it affords getting that content clear in one’s mind before putting it into words…

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..The Color Blue

  3. On December 1, 2008 at 11:50 am Lillie Ammann responded with... #

    I’m a big fan of simplicity and look forward to your posts on this theme.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour This Week

  4. On December 1, 2008 at 1:00 pm Andrew responded with... #


    My view on this topic is straightforward - complexity is for those who wish to show how superior their intellect is compared with their readers, and simplicity is for those who wish to actually communicate a message.

    That’s not of course to say that one should avoid topics which involve complex issues or phenomenon, but it is to say that the written word should be as concise and straightforward as possible.

    Andrews last blog post..Why firms should pay bills on time

  5. On December 1, 2008 at 1:20 pm Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    Great topic, Joanna! Lemme give you my really simple, down-to-bare-essentials, one word response to your December theme:

    Cool! :-D

  6. On December 1, 2008 at 1:35 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Joanna, How DO you do it? Another great theme. Such fertile ground. A few issues that come to mind … How do you excise jargon and redundancy? How do you know when you’re digressing? How do you know when you’re providing too much detail - or not enough? Are the tools that measure the grade level of content accurate and useful? Thank you for the Christmas present of this wonderful topic.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Interruption Marketing that Works!

  7. On December 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim
    responded with... #

    Joanna, simplicity is a perfect theme for this month of frenzied activity. We tend to over complicate our schedules, our words, our gift in this month. I am a fan of simplicity but I also often need a gentle reminder. I am looking forward to digging into this theme with you as we wind down the year and look ahead to new beginnings.

    Karen Swims last blog post..A Month of Giving

  8. On December 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm Bo responded with... #

    I am so ready for anything with the concept simplicity applied. I am trying to resist the impulse to go find a dry cave for the next few months…

    Bos last blog post..From a Spider’s Web

  9. On December 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @Jim, I agree, it does take time and skill to refine your work and make it simple. I guess what I want to do with this theme is explore some of the ways we can learn to develop that skill set.

    @Ulla, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. Getting on clear on things before you start to write is key.

    @Lillie, thank you.

    @Andrew, I agree - in part. I don’t think it’s the intention of everyone who writes in a less than simple way to demonstrate intellectual superiority. It may be that they’re copying their peers, applying lessons learned in school, are tangled up in grammar rules, haven’t learned plain English techniques, or are a little afraid of seeing their words without the ‘wrapping’ of excess language or jargon. Don’t you think?

  10. On December 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @Robert, one word responses - perfect! Thanks :-)

    @Brad, glad it strikes a chord.

    ‘How do you know…’ is one I was thinking of covering - it relates to a comment from Robyn last week too. I’ll see if I can cover something on the grade level tools too.

    @Karen, thanks. Themes are fun to deploy in our writing aren’t they? I can’t wait to follow along yours too.@

    Bo, well, I’ll do my best for you :-)

  11. On December 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm Mig responded with... #

    I’d like to recommend a resource for this journey: - the book is amazing and it emphasizes just this: simplicity as the key to stickiness.

    Migs last blog post..How to Write Compelling SEO Copy

  12. On December 1, 2008 at 10:49 pm Cath Lawson responded with... #

    Hi Joanna - I love this theme. I wonder if you can talk about adjectives. I’m a huge fan of cutting them out but I leave some in, for fear of going too far.

    If you could write about getting the balance right, that would be great. I would really like to know about keeping things simple without going overboard.

    Cath Lawsons last blog post..Affiliate Commissions - Is Your Anti-Virus Eating Them?

  13. On December 1, 2008 at 11:29 pm Trevor Gay responded with... #


    I loved Simplicity so much I wrote a book about it in 2004 and a few years later it is my brand.

    I have a Simplicity Blog

    And a Simplicity Website

    Congratulations on featuring the topic of Simplicity – music to my ears.

    Greetings from over the pond and thanks to my friend Steve Sherlock for putting me in your direction – I will watch your Blog with great interest.

    Best wishes


    Trevor Gays last blog post..Leadership Lessons

  14. On December 2, 2008 at 8:25 am Carla responded with... #

    As someone who is new to writing, simplicity definitely speaks to me.:) When I go over my drafts, I’m delighted that I often cut out 1/4 of what I wrote but the point is still there.

    Carlas last blog post..I am sick of “green”

  15. On December 2, 2008 at 8:28 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Mig, thanks very much for suggesting that resource. Sorry the inclusion of the link got you stuck in Aksimet for a while.

    Cath, great question, thanks, I’ll see what I can do.

    Hi Trevor, good to meet you and again, sorry the extra links put you into the ‘queue’ for a while. I’ll try and check them out later.

  16. On December 2, 2008 at 1:01 pm Bo responded with... #

    I had to come back and comment after you left a comment on my last post - the “one word answer” meme. You noted you learned a lot from my one word answers. And the connection. A one word meme? - talk about simplicity. Chuckling to myself…

    Bos last blog post..Meme - in Search of Clean and Brief

  17. On December 2, 2008 at 10:19 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Bo, in my book less is always more!

    Looking at your last post title I’m wondering if I should add a strapline to this month’s theme: in search of clean and brief… :-)

  18. On December 4, 2008 at 10:15 am Ricardo Bueno responded with... #

    One of my favorite bloggers authors a blog titled: She’s awesome! Often reminds me that it’s ok to keep things simple ya know.

    Ricardo Buenos last blog post..TypePad Gets A Facelift: some cool new community features!

  19. On December 4, 2008 at 4:29 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Ricardo, I like that blog too. It’s one of those that I read quietly…

  20. On December 5, 2008 at 3:34 pm wilson responded with... #

    Joanna, I loved this theme very much, as I always think simplicity is the basic rule for essay writing…

    wilsons last blog post..The Best Weight Loss Programs


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