If you write anything, anything at all — fiction; non-fiction; blogs; tweets; grocery lists — you probably have some writing tics. Strike that. No probably about it, you have writing tics. Except maybe the grocery lists. In that case, you just need the same stuff repeatedly.
I have just one that I see time after time in my manuscripts. I’m currently less than a third into editing a first draft, and if I run a search, my tic is just everywhere. Just everywhere. 270 times, to be exact, keeping in mind just I’d smitten (smote? Smited? Clearly not smited) a bunch of them in the part I’d already reviewed.
If you haven’t noticed it yet, it’s OK, just don’t feel bad about it. What’s that, hypothetical reader? You’re onto me?
Just keep it to yourself.
Yes, my tic is “just,” used in a myriad of ways, but still used. And used. And used. Sometimes multiple times on a page. Occasionally I have to keep it, but edit after edit, I comb through, and there they cling, all the “justs,” until I pry them off with tweezers or burn them with fire.
Yes, hypothetical reader. It’s metaphor. Like a “tick” only a “tic.” Yeah yeah yeah, I’m sure everybody knows not to actually burn them off with fire, it just sounds dramatic.
And there I go again.
As with the other kind, most writing tics aren’t fatal. Though some of them can be pretty nasty, and there’s even one that can make you allergic to red meat, which is one of the strangest twists of nature–
Sorry, hypothetical reader? Right you are, wrong kind of tick tangent. Overuse of the same word is unlikely to give you allergies to anything, aside from your own work. But the fix is easy enough: run a search, find them, and drown those suckers in alcohol.
The type of alcohol is up to you.
Check out my full-length novels, Her Cousin Much Removed, The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!