Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Getting Out Of The Rut

photo by Catie Rhodes 
Who's been in a rut before?

Everyone raise your hands. We've all done it. Whether it is with our food choices, our daily activities, or our writing, we've been in the place where we get stuck and can't move on to new and exciting things.

The rut is comforable. You don't have to think about it. The path is set, all you need to do is follow it.

My family just did a weekend road trip that included seeing part of the Oregon Trail. To me it was amazing to think that thousands of people trekked west in the mid-1800's for a new life. The standard path was so well worn that there are still ruts visible over some grassy hills in southern Idaho after all this time.

I've been stuck in a grammatical rut for the last couple of chapters. I'm trying to finish for a deadline. That might be pushing me to stick to a comfortable routine. My rut is this: "James wanted to finish his coffee, but Kristin was giving him that look."

Nothing wrong with that by itself, right? My problem is that I keep using this compound sentence structure EVERY paragraph it seems. I don't want simple short sentences every time, but this way of using a conjunction is becoming to repetitive. SEE! I just did it again.

Argh. It is hard enough pushing toward the end. I can see it. The end. No more mirage shimmering in the distance. It really is there. But in fighting toward it I still want to do a decent job and not have to return to edit every single "Blah, blah, blah, BUT/AND/SO blah, blah, blah" clause that I can't seem to avoid.

At least I am recognizing it. We all have blind spots as authors. Better to know now than be surprised withthe edits. Now, how to get past this? There's always the "bomb under the sofa" technique.

What say you? What have some of your ruts been? Anything goes here! For writers, how did you get out of said rut?


  1. For me it's favorite weasel words. Just how many times can I use the word "just" in a manuscript? The answer was 158 times!

  2. Leslie,

    I know *just* what you mean. I kept using "little". Not only was it repeated all over, it weakened so much of my writing. Argh.