From the moment I post an article on my blog until I post the next one I am constantly thinking and worrying. I fret about the content, about my paragraphs and sentences, about the words I have used, about structure, about punctuation. The only thing I don’t worry about is the spelling since spell check does it for me. I swear I spend most of my day agonizing.
On any given day after I write I can’t stop but think whether the article I wrote sucks, or if I am wasting my time. And then of course I think my grammar’s not that great. When it comes to punctuation I still get confused and I sometimes don’t know what to use when, except of course the full stop. Especially when I have an extremely long sentence and I want to break it up. The best thing I can do at the time is put a full stop somewhere and then start the next sentence with an ‘and’. But of course you cannot start sentences with a conjunction right? So I break the rules. I use ‘but’ instead of however, and ‘and’ when I am not supposed to. I always feel that I am breaking the rules of grammar while writing. Oh how I love to start my sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’ to just create a natural transition that sweeps readers along. I feel ‘but’ is a stronger sentence starter than ‘however’, which of course has its own rules.
And then starts the ongoing concern of whether or not I have come up with the right way to say something, the exact phrase or description. I start the hunt for the best or rather the perfect word. Like whether to use ‘less’ instead of ‘fewer’. Or is using ‘exact same’ instead of ‘exactly’ or ‘of late’ instead of ‘lately’ correct? And the list goes on. Sometimes a word sounds more poetic, more romantic, than its synonym, so do I use it or not? The hardest part is to look for clichés in my writing, to look for what the writing coaches and professors call imprecise, vague language and purple prose.
The bestseller writer Barbara Bradford Taylor had scarcely started writing her first full-length novel when she stopped, thinking the plot reminded her of another book. She writes:
“I thought, I’ve read that before. Somewhere. I can’t do that. And that is where it ended. And that reminds me, years later, when I was writing about Emma Harte as a child in A Woman of Substance, I had this marvelous line- ‘the strongest steel goes through the hotter fire’- two days later, I remembered it came from David Copperfield.”
So she did what she thought was the right thing to do then, she abandoned her first ‘novel’.
But we can’t abandon our articles and blogs and stories and novels. We keep on writing and worrying and thinking and editing and polishing and fretting and rewriting again and again until we come up with what we think is our best.
Happy writing (and worrying) everyone!