When Your Darlings are Habitual


How ya doin’? Good? Good. I don’t know what it is about Autumn that makes me want to blog, but I feel it in the air. And today I’ve come up with the perfect subject:


I have found that I have been using them entirely too much lately. I don’t even know why, or where the change came from. I certainly didn’t used to use commas as if they’re going to disappear from existence at any moment. I’m trying not to do so in this blog, so maybe it won’t be noticeable here, (ugh! Or maybe it will!), but for some reason that is escaping me right now, it’s a habit I have formed somewhere along the way of which I was NOT aware. Maybe it has to do with writing LONG sentences for grad papers? Or maybe too much studying of those classic authors (*coughSwiftcough*) who used commas more often than breaths?


My point is, it’s become habitual for me to comma everything to death, and it’s annoying the crap out of me. But every time I go to get rid of the excess commas, I have a good reason for them being there.

Every. Time.

See? Look at that paragraph above. (Not the short one. The one above it. There ya go!) I know I could delete the second comma and not have any issues, but then the little voice inside says, “what if it’s confusing for people to read, having to read it in one mental breath and all?” So I think, “well, I can always make it two sentences…” Then my brain stops for a moment before completely imploding against the very thought of writing such short, clippy pieces of crap.


The old writer’s axiom of  “kill your darlings” can relate to many things, but what if those darlings are habitual, such as is the case with my current comma-frenzy? I am well aware, as a professional writer, that this will not stand, and my final manuscripts and papers are certainly purged of them (often along with my hair… strange coincidence), but what do you do when your first drafts always have the same issues which you can’t seem to break?

What about you? What are your habitual darlings, and with what do you murder them in cold blood?


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