Patterns, Woh-oh-oh, Patterns

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I’m sorry if you have the song “Feelings” stuck in your head now. I’ve had it stuck in my head since the idea about writing patterns came to me and that was…ugh. Three, four days ago? It’s hard to say because I have this song stuck in my head—

Anyway, writing patterns. We all have ‘em. Maybe they’re really destructive patterns, like the one that starts in the summer when you take off a day or two from your usual writing ritual because the kids are home or you went on vacation or some calamity has befallen you. Whatever the situation, your routine has been disrupted. And before you know it, you haven’t written a lick in two months.

Or maybe it’s just a small, annoying writing pattern, like a word or a phrase that comes up continually in your stories or articles. It’s so small, in fact, that you don’t even see it. But you know who does see it?

Yep. Your readers.

Here’s the thing about writing patterns—or for that matter, any behavioral pattern. Our brain likes to take the road well traveled because frankly, it’s easier. Why claw your way through brambles and thickets when you can take the worn path? You’re used to it.

Now maybe your writing patterns are practically perfect in every way. Good for you! But what if your writing patterns have taken a bad turn of late?

You need to get unstuck from the not-so-perfect patterns. You need to make changes and that starts with mindfulness, the quality that makes you aware of something. (Namely, your not-so-perfect writing patterns.)

Right now—yes, right this second—I want you to think for three whole minutes and then I want you to write down the bad pattern that’s crept up in your writing life. I’ll even give you a few of mine to sort of get you started:

· the it’s-summer-and-so-I-don’t-need-to-write pattern
· using the word “just” all the time
· starting sentences with “and” just a little too often (D’oh. I CAN’T STOP USING JUST!)

Next, I want you to write down the new pattern you will work on, now that you know your target areas. For example, I will refuse to use the word “just.” Even though it’s a perfectly good word and many times, it’s the perfect word for a particular sentence. But I will not use the word “just.”

It will not be easy, forging that new writing pattern. My brain is literally screaming at me to use the word “just.” But I shall not succumb. I shall find a better word, a stronger word. I shall overcome my bad writing pattern!

You can, too. It just…er, only takes a little practice to step off that worn writing path and develop a bright and shiny new writing pattern.

How about it? Want to share your bad writing pattern and how you’re going to fix it? Or perhaps we can help you come up with a solution. And then—please, friends! —you can tell me how to get that stupid song out of my head!

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

Perhaps (but probably not) I will try and write a piece completely devoid of ellipsis. Or in the plural form, is it ellipses?

Whatever. I love them, can't stay away from them... I feel like Dottie's younger sister in "A League of Their Own" when it comes to high (and outside? Or is it low and outside? Or inside?) balls...

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh my word, Sioux, I love them, too! But I can't give up ellipses AND the word "just."

Baby steps, right? :-)

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