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After, Not Once

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers

When I was a technical writer, one of the first things I learned was the difference between “once” and “after.”

We were just creating manuals and procedures, but this one rule was profound and extended way beyond our day-to-day writing.

The rule was: never use “once.”

“Once” is an imprecise word. It implies you can perceive the present and know when it has arrived and passed.

Imagine that. In one word, you’ve conveyed enlightenment itself.

Use “after” instead.

We never perceive anything until “after.” No step follows another until “after.”

Life is always “after” until death.

After death, it’s still “after,” but the perception of “after” disappears.

There is never a “once.”