I worry about the words I use. I constantly worry. I think too much sometimes about each word and find myself adding words when actually I should be taking them away. I’m doing it now as I write this. Look at my first two sentences. Really that should read, ‘I constantly worry about the words I use.’
I worry because, like everyone, I set myself targets – daily targets, like a regular number of words, that sort of thing. I’m sure we all do this but the fear of not reaching a target is very real, to me, at least. I feel this fear on a daily basis and when I do I tend to extend my sentences, stretching them beyond where they might likely rest if they were given a choice. This means that each word strains against the next, sometimes not making a clear enough progression through the sentence. Instead of being simply enough, my sentences contain an inherent uncertainty and this can cause them to lose their impact. This then causes my paragraphs to be longer than I would like, with a succession of extended sentences unclarifying the point of the paragraph, muddying the flow down the page.
Of course, once I’m editing I can prune back the words, hacking and cutting as if I were trimming an unruly plant. This allows me to retain, or regain, control of my words and ensures that my paragraphs don’t collapse under their own weight. You would think that I had learned my lesson by now and was disciplined enough to make sure that I controlled my words in the first place. But I’m not and I can’t so I keep extending and stretching followed by hacking and cutting. There’s something natural about this cycle, after all, something comforting, so perhaps I should simply stop complaining and keep pruning?
What do you think?