Q: Do you have any writing tics? How do you deal with them?
A: Thank you, Susan, for letting me take over your spot this week!
Have to admit, I didn’t understand the question at first. Did you bright minds at Criminal Minds mean tics in our writing—as in quirks in our prose—or our tics as writers while we’re writing?
Can I tell you about the way I jiggle my leg when I suddenly realize that the last page I’ve written is nothing but mindless drivel that’s more like me talking to my internal psychotherapist?
Merrit: “Are you seeing a doctor about your sleep issues?”
Nathan: “It’s nothing, really, I’m fine.”
Merrit: “You say that, but, Jesus, man, you’re a walking zombie. You’ve got to see a doctor. I’m worried about you—you seem—”
Merrit: “Troubled. What’s going on?”
It’s about at this point that I jiggle my leg, delete, and suppress my thoughts. That’s how I deal with it – healthy, right?
How about the way I obsessively tap the keys without depressing them when I can’t get my thoughts to order themselves into anything like coherent sentences? There’s nothing to do in this case but walk away for awhile. Just. Walk. Away.
Sometimes I swear I take on the tics of my characters too. At one point while writing Whispers in the Mist … (Commercial intermission: The reason I’m here—the book just launched! Woohoo! You can read more about it below.) … I found myself patting my chest like my series character Merrit does when she’s getting anxious.
I hope that doesn’t come off like she’s a woman with the vapors, a fainting couch, and opiates. Not like that at all, but this does leave me with a question: Or did Merrit inherit my tendency to pat my chest? Hmm …
Having just come off the Whisper in the Mist book launch, I’m now settling back into revisions for the novel coming out next summer. I’ve already got a list of overused words that I must search and destroy—or at least search and disable. I’m used to this list; it’s a variation of the list I compiled while revising Whispers in the Mist.
The list includes such words as: blink, sigh, shrug, grunt, hiss, turn, gaze, nod, stare
In other words, one of my writing tics is that my characters have too many tics. It’s like they’re all suffering from undiagnosed neurological disorders. In early drafts, they twitch around on the page, shifting, blinking, shrugging, turning, tapping, fiddling, nodding, shaking, hissing, snorting, staring – it’s a collective case of ADHD. Mass ADHD, as it were.