I saw this article, titled What annoys authors about their own writing?, written by Mary Schmich in last Sunday’s edition of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. I cut it out immediately. (Click here to access the digital version.) When I got to work on Monday, I discovered a colleague had also put a copy of the article in my mailbox. I knew then I was destined to write about it.
In her column, Mary Schmich discusses habits, or tics, that writers wish they could change. Mary’s tic is the use of colons. Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn has a habit of using the word ‘literally.’ Novelist Nami Mun admits to the overuse of food metaphors in her writing. The author of the article goes on to explain that another way of looking at tics is to think of as them as writing style, or voice.
The article got me thinking, “What’s my writing tic?” So, I looked back through my Slice of Life Stories with a critical eye. Here’s what I found:
In this one short Slice of Life Story, I invoked the Rule of Three on four separate occasions.
#1: She can be hesitant to try new things, hesitant to make a mistake, hesitant to take a risk.
#2: Being brave might mean trying a new food, or making a new friend, or drawing a difficult picture, or loosening the training wheels on her bike.
#3: For a long while, she watched in solitude as her fearless peers ran and played and climbed the play structures.
#4: Higher and higher and higher she climbed.
Yes, I would call that a tic.
While rereading my blog posts, I also noticed how I tend to use a cyclical structure a lot. And I do mean A LOT. I will introduce an idea and circle back to that same idea, but in a different way. I did it in this post:
Finally, I saw lots of evidence that I am the undisputed queen of the repeating word or phrase. Look at this excerpt from one of my Slice of Life stories:
It was interesting to identify my tics. It was definitely an exercise in reflection. I decided my tics are part of who I am as a writer. The tics are what gives my writing voice and style. I wouldn’t get rid of them even if I could.
What are your tics as a writer? Please share in the comment section below.
Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer