Once upon a time, I was a better writer. I was a better writer because I wasn’t a lazy writer. I wasn’t a lazy writer because I was surrounded by good writers, and people, whose authority and talent I respected, challenged me to be better.
The previous paragraph is a semi-intentional example of lazy writing. There’s nothing gramatically wrong with it. The paragraph builds as each sentence explains the last. It’s sound expository composition, with a clear thesis and support. Opinions may vary as to whether beginning with “once upon a time” in anything that’s not a fairy tale is a clever hook or a trite attempt to be cute.
BUT… That first paragraph shows inherent signs of laziness. Most notably, repetitive phrasing: “I was” or “I wasn’t” five times in three sentences. Repetition isn’t always bad; it can be intentionally used for effect. More often than not, though, repetition shows lack of effort to makes one’s writing interesting. Also, forms of the verb “to be,” like “was,” weaken writing when overused. Active verbs strengthen writing, and passive voice, like “I was surrounded” should be avoided. I could go on, but sometimes using too many words is just as lazy as using too few.
So why did I become a lazy writer? More importantly, how does one kick the lazy habit and regain his writing chops?
It helps to have friends who are fellow writers show you how lazy you’re being, because they know you can do much better. I definitely have that much going for me.
Next time I’ll illustrate more of my laziness and how to fix it. I would write more about it now, but, I started this on Monday, and… I’m lazy. (One parting hint: Three commas and an ellipsis in a 16-word sentence is probably not for the best).