Pity the bedraggled cliché?

No way.

If that seems harsh, think of how clichés harm writing, draw unwelcome attention, replace freshness with staleness and rob readers of the pleasure of original expressions that make writing memorable.

Here are a few clichés that appear so often in modern communication that they have become parodies of themselves:

It is what it is. This is not my first rodeo. That's above my pay grade.

Watch almost any TV series and this kind of expression comes at you at every turn. TV writers face unforgiving time restraints, so they use clichés to economize.

But a reader seeing clichés on a page can recognize, at a glance, tired and lazy hack work.

Clichés develop because so many people express themselves with them for so long. They become as familiar and as comfortable as old slippers (That's a cliché.). My bad. (That's another one.)

Clichés do connect with what's called "lived experience."

But discerning readers crave and appreciate the uplift of originality.

Consider this grotesque cliché, used by baseball writers and broadcasters who tell us a batter's base hit "plated" two runs. That means two baserunners safely crossed home plate. And instead of saying a batter hit a home run, they will tell us a batter "went yard," meaning he hit the ball out of the park.

Compare that drivel with the elegance of the writer John Updike's description of the day the Hall of Famer Ted Williams played his last game with the Boston Red Sox:

"Of all team sports, baseball, with its graceful intermittences of action, its immense and tranquil field sparsely populated with poised men in white, its dispassionate mathematics, seems to me best suited to accommodate, and be ornamented by, a loner."

That supreme loner, Williams, at the age of 42, in the last time at bat in his long career, hit the ball out of the park.

Of course, writers who do not embrace models like Updike might take the lazy way out and say of Williams: He was what he was.

Twin Cities writing coach Gary Gilson, who teaches journalism at Colorado College, can be reached through writebetterwithgary.com.