Michelle Longo of The Journey opens the yeah write weekly writing challenges for the month of August

When I was in high school, I was a member of our debate team.  Our meets consisted of two teams, the affirmative and the negative, each making five minute speeches on an assigned topic.  The affirmative had prepared their words ahead of time, practicing to perfection.  The negative had to compose an argument against the affirmative’s speech while listening to it.  It was exactly as difficult as it sounds.

As part of our practice, we recorded our debates to play back later. What tripped me up was what trips up many speakers and writers alike, and that was extra words that weren’t necessary to make my point.  Using phrases such as “as I said,” “my point is,” and “what I mean is” were ways to keep words flowing when I couldn’t think of anything to say.  Judges took points off for them and when I learned to cut the fat in my speeches, I performed far better.

You don’t have to publish before you edit

If you only have a short amount of time to grab someone’s attention and say all you want to say, you need to make good use of it. You cannot risk going off on a tangent or using extraneous phrases.  If you lose your readers, you may well not get them back.

The beauty of writing on a blog is that you aren’t standing up in front of a room full of strangers, arguing a point you’ve had only five minutes to craft. You can take your time, read your piece aloud, and pin down all those words you don’t need.  Take note of how often you start a sentence with “and” or “but,” taking care to use them sparingly.  If you strayed from your topic, you can cut where you went off track and save it for another day.  

You have the time to make your story tight, so take it.  The urge to publish can be strong, but a post set free before its time won’t have the impact you want it to.  Take pride in your story.  Snip, cut, and polish your phrases until they shine. 

Don’t just fill the air with words so that it looks like you have something to say.  We already know you have something to say.  We want you to tell it to us like you mean it.

Odds, ends, reminders

  • Your post can be no longer than 600 words
  • Personal essays or traditional blog anecdotes only
  • There are no weekly prompts; the topic is yours. Be compelling
  • The grid is open from Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. 
  • There is voting. Voting will take place Thursday from midnight to 10:00 p.m. US eastern 
  • The challenge grid is limited to 50 bloggers
  • The winners’ post will be published by noon on Friday
  • No self-promotional posts are allowed on the yeah write grid, including those containing links to other blog events and Internet contests

Yeah write #122 is open…