I know, the title of this post sounds like a no-brainer, right? Of course an author and avid reader is addicted to words. But this post isn’t about my love of the written word. No, it’s about another word addiction that I’m embarrassed to admit I have.
I’m addicted to “ing” words, “was,” and “were.”
Shameful thing for an author to admit, right? But here’s the thing, like any other addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.
How did I find out about my addiction to these words, the ones that catch an editor’s eye and too occurrences of them get you a rejection? You guessed it. I received a rejection. I didn’t even know I had so many “ing” words in that story until the editor told me to do a search for them and highlight them. I did, and every page came alive with color. I searched out “was” and “were” as well, highlighting them in a different color. Guess what? I suddenly had a rainbow of highlights on my pages.
Oh, that poor editor, having to suffer through my passive, “ing” filled story. I’m so grateful she pointed that out to me. Now I know what to look for: bad writing habits I thought I’d overcome. The hard part is rewriting sentences to make them much more active and remove the “ing” words. Of course, there is a silver lining to all of this. The revisions to combat my word addiction will tighten up the writing and make the story even better.
Thanks to the poor editor who had to suffer through my lazy writing, and was kind enough to tell me what I needed to work on, I see a light at the end of what likely would have been a very dark tunnel of form rejections. And not just on this story. I did the same search and highlight method on a short story I thought was almost ready to go. Same result. It makes the pages quite pretty with all those highlights, but I’d rather have the writing itself be pretty. Good writing is what keeps editors and readers happy, not how many highlights you can fit on one page.
Let’s open up the comments section for a bit of writerly group therapy. Do you have a word addiction you’re trying to overcome? Some bad writing habit you know you have, yet you don’t seem to realize it crept into your manuscript until after you submitted?