The KISS principle—let’s be kind and define it as Keep It Simple, Saint—is widely known for its organizational application. But it’s also great advice when it comes to writing—and it even has scriptural backup.
Remember what God told the prophet Habakkuk when He entrusted him with a message for His people: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it” (Habakkuk 2:2). It’s interesting that God had to make a point of telling Habakkuk to be clear and straightforward. Maybe because He was aware of the temptation to want to sound clever when we put things down on paper.
Certainly, we want to write in a way that is engaging, that holds people’s attention, but the end goal is to make an impact, not to impress folks. Note God’s concern was not that readers would think how great the writing was, but that they would be so affected by the message they were spurred into action.
So, keep in mind that what you think is golden prose could be purple to the reader. Aim for “look at that” (whatever the subject of your writing may be) rather than “look at me!”
Some ways to KISS your writing: Keep the sentences short, for the most part. That long though grammatically correct line of thought could probably be broken down into two or more shorter thoughts, making it easiest to digest.
And while some detail is important to bring anecdotes alive or to explain principles, don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details. Jesus delivered His essential teaching on prayer in around 60 words. Abraham Lincoln’s historic Gettysburg address ran to less than 300 words.
It can also be helpful to put your draft aside for a day or two and then come back to it. What seemed like inspiration when you were typing away at midnight might not seem quite so brilliant in the cold light of day. Read your draft out loud; you get a much better sense for the clarity of what you have written when you speak the words out loud.
Another option is to get a trusted friend or two to read your words and give you some honest feedback. And then there are software programs that offer not only spellcheck but grammar reviews, or that can analyze the reading comprehension level at which you are writing.
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