My favourite piece of punctuation is the semicolon. When it comes to proofreading, I notice that a lot of the time I am adding in semicolons to pieces of writing which otherwise would not use a single one. It makes me wonder if people actually know when to use the semicolon.
I think that it’s potentially my favourite piece of punctuation for the mere fact that I actually know how to use it, just like apostrophes are my least favourite, because they confuse the hell out of me! If you are great at using apostrophes, then I seriously applaud you.
For those of you who are confused about when the semicolon should make an appearance in your writing, I use it when it seems like it’s too short of a pause to use a full stop, but too long of a pause to use a comma. Another time to use it is when you’re writing a list of detailed items.
Milk, bread, cookies – this small list would use just commas.
creamy, white milk; seeded, cheesy, crusty bread; chocolate chip, salted caramel cookies – this list with detailed items uses semicolons because otherwise the large use of commas would make it confusing to look at and separate the items.
Which piece of punctuation is your favourite?
Full stops are pretty easy to work out, but commas? How often should you use them?
And the issue is that no one seems to agree. I used to put a comma before every connective word, before finding out that you don’t usually need to put a comma before the word ‘because.’ I’d been doing it for years.
And to make matters worse, I studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa for three years and was pulled up on my use of commas by THREE different lecturers:
-Lecturer #1 said I use way too many commas.
-Lecturer #2 said that I don’t use enough commas and that I should put a comma before the word ‘and’ which I hardly ever do (and still don’t.)
-Lecturer #3 was over the moon with my use of commas and awarded me with a first due to my perfect use of them and all other punctuation.
I don’t think I/we will ever know the perfect amount of commas to use in our writing, because there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer. Even in books I read, I can see that some authors use lots, while others hardly use any at all.
So what happens if no matter what you do it’s never right?
I guess the only other option is to be consistent!
While I’m so in awe of people who can sit and write at any time of the day, that is just not me. If it was me, I would definitely get my books written a lot quicker, but as long as the sun is up, my brain does not work.
Daytime writing is a no no for me. I CAN write, just like every other person can write whenever they want, but it isn’t good. I feel so uninspired, end up staring at a blank page for ridiculous amounts of time and what I do write usually ends up getting deleted once I look back at it, with a thought of ‘what the hell was I thinking?’
Only at night does the story side of my brain start working. There are many reasons this could be why, for example, maybe it’s the fact it’s a lot quieter at night, so there’s less distractions. (I don’t like background noise whilst I’m writing. I can deal with music or the TV on with the volume down low, but people talking and things like that really puts me off.) Another big reason it could be is my anxiety. I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and at night it really starts to play up. My mind overthinks a lot at night and I also struggle to sleep. I also feel like my body clock is the opposite of what is expected. I always feel sleepy in the daytime and alert at night. I honestly think my body would prefer me to stay up all night and sleep all day instead. Weirdly enough, I only read at night too.
So remember, if you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you’ve just not found the right routine for yourself yet. Try out writing at different parts of the day, in different locations, with music on/off, TV on/off etc. and you may find when you’re really best at writing.
Personally when it comes to writing, I am a planner.
When I first started writing I didn’t plan at all. I would have an idea, work out a beginning and ending, who the main character was and then just go for it. Although this works for some people, it really didn’t work for me. I realised that my story was going nowhere. I was just writing and writing and writing, but there was no structure, no conflict… it was just very lacking in what a story needs. I had no idea where it was going to go next and pretty soon into it, I realised I had no clue how I was going to reach the ending. It wasn’t even the same story anymore.
I haven’t made this mistake since and it is due to my planning. I don’t go overboard with my planning, but I still need some form of it there to keep my story structured and going in the right direction. Now once an idea comes to mind and I’m ready to write, I plan my story out from beginning to end as a list of bullet points. I have also found an amazing trick I now use, which is that I keep a grid of characters and every time I write something in my story about a character (for example someone has a Ford car, or they used to have a pet dog named Milo,) I make a note of it under that character’s name. It just helps me out in the long run to look back at what I know about each character. I add to this as I write the story, because for me character attributes become more apparent the further into the story you get.
So, to plan or not to plan, which is right for you?
Over Christmas I had two portfolios of writing to complete along with two essays for university. Now, I don’t mind writing a story here and there but I ended up having to write about seven stories and six poems. Over a short space of time that is a lot of writing. Needless to say, I really struggled. I ended up handing in this as one of my poems:
Creatively drained – I’ve written and written and written and now my head is sore and empty. The blank page before me is craving doodles and words, but I have none left to give. Past pieces of paper have stolen them all away like burglars of ideas. Oh Facebook, calling out to me, I so wish to play your games, why are you trying to distract me? But the assignment’s due are glaring down at me like I’m a prisoner left with only one choice and that one choice is: to write.
And the lecturer hated it!
Just seen this and it is a really handy checklist to have!
So as you lot following my blog love a bit of creative writing, I’m guessing that means in the majority of cases you also love a bit of reading! For about a year or two now I have been reading free books in exchange for an honest review for authors and publishing companies. Recently I started the ‘E’ series by Kate Wrath. I have read up to book 3 and am now just waiting on the release of Elergy. I have been in contact with the author herself and she told me about a competition running on her site. I decided to enter and I WON! As a prize she is going to feature me as a character in Elergy. I can’t wait to meet ‘Lozzi!’