There’s a short list of questions I ask myself when I’m writing and editing, whether it’s poetry, fiction, essay, or other. These questions help guide me towards clarity.
What is it that I’m really trying to say?
What words will express my thoughts without ambiguity?
What analogy, metaphor, or simile might make this concept clearer?
Are the images vivid & fresh enough to have an impact with readers?
Can I say all of this more concisely?
Am I using big fancy words just to use them?
Have I said anything that’s offensive? If so, can I eliminate it or soften it and still get my point across.
It’s not a perfect list, but I believe maintaining the habit of going through these questions improves each piece of my writing.