by Dwayne Phillips
Old metaphors indicate many problems. One result, however, is that they prevent thought. Thinking is a pretty good practice, and I discourage anything that reduces it.
The old metaphor should be avoided. George Orwell wrote about this in his essay on Politics and the English Language. Orwell wrote it much better than I could, so I quote him:
But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.
Do you have a metaphor? Stop. Think. Write what you wish to convey instead of using the metaphor.
One reason is that pause for thought often causes me to consider the subject of my writing. I learn that I am writing about symptoms and not sickness. Under the symptoms is a real problem. The extra thinking shows me the real problem.
Put away the first piece of writing for now. Write about the real problem and possible remedies.
Hence, the old metaphor can be useful. It can cause me to think, and thinking is something that should rarely be avoided.