run on sentence professional

You Have No Idea

At lunch with a friend recently, I heard the following,

“Every time I sit down to write, I just know that it’s terrible and I cringe that anyone has to read it, so I’m really glad I’m not a writer.”

My friend wasn’t a writer by profession. She was just talking about the writing she has to do for her regular job. Nonetheless, I told her that if she were a writer, I would tell her that the first thing she needs to do is get rid of the idea that she knows in advance if something she writes is going to be good or bad. The attitude that so many people have (often instilled in them from bad writing teachers in school) is what prevents a lot of us from unlocking our writing potential.

You’re not a bad writer.

You’re just getting started.

Telling yourself that you’re bad is the best way to never get started.

This idea that we prejudge what we’re good or bad at before we even put words to the page is just so damaging. And in our culture, people do it all over the place. I’m bad at music because I can’t just pick up an instrument and play a concerto. I’m bad at cooking because I burn things sometimes. I’m bad at exercising because I’m overweight or slow. I’m bad at dancing because I have to focus so hard on listening to the music that sometimes I step on someone else’s foot.

Caring about other people’s opinions is half the problem.

The other half of the problem is not giving yourself a chance.

I’m not saying everyone is destined to become Yo-Yo Ma if they’d just practice every day. But you can enjoy things even if you’re not making a profession out of them. And you may be surprised if you give yourself a chance to see what you can do if you stop telling yourself it’s impossible.

Everyone is bad to begin with. Yes, even professionals. My first draft of a novel is often terrible. And most of my ideas are laughably bad. You just don’t see all of them because I accept that most of what I write is going to be bad and I give myself permission to make mistakes and try it anyway. Then I choose the best parts. Later.

You have no idea what’s going to be good or bad while you’re producing it. This is one of the first rules that I think creative types need to learn. Especially at the beginning, you’re going to feel uncomfortable trying things out and you’re going to have to learn to withhold judgment for a little while.

I’m sitting right now on a short story that I’ve decided I need to give a couple of months before I decide whether or not I should send it out. That’s normal for me. Sometimes, I’m pleasantly surprised at how good something I wrote is. Sometimes the reverse happens and I put it away. Sometimes I cut out six chapters in a book and rewrite them all. Sometimes the idea of the book is good but every single word I’ve got down is wrong and it’s time to start from the beginning. This doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. It means I’m a writer.

This process of judging good from bad is part of being a writer, but you’ve got nothing to judge if you don’t give yourself a chance.

I don’t know who told you that you’re a bad writer, but that’s not their job. A teacher isn’t supposed to give that as feedback. They’re supposed to help you get better. Spelling mistakes and run-on sentence issues are not problems that have stopped a bunch of professional writers I know. Trust me on this. That’s what copy editors are for.

Stop pre-judging your efforts before you even try. I mourn sometimes for the great works of literature we will never see because so many people think that they’re no good because it’s not perfect out of the chute. You have no idea.

anonymous asked:

Hi there! I'm currently editing one of my novels and in the process I've noticed that I switch tense fairly often, and overuse commas. Do you have any advice on tenses and how to properly use them/stay in them? Or advice about when a comma is or isn't necessary? Thanks so much for any help you give, I hope your day is great!

Ah, you’re speaking my language! As I’m currently ghost writing a novella, I find myself in the same predicament. The fun part about Present tense is it adds a sense of urgency, but the problem is it’s not my preferred tense, so I end up switching to Past tense in a low point and present in a current tone.

My advice, from experience, is don’t worry about it! Go for whatever tense feels right at the time and worry about being consistent in the editing phase. Going with whatever you feel at the moment you properly express the character in their current emotional state; once you have the content, revising is easy from there. … Well, that’s a lie, because revising isn’t easy. But it’s better to have too much content than not enough. Just roll with it!

And since the editing phase is  clearly where you are, let’s talk about that.

Editing Tenses.

  • So your first job is to just Dive In: Start reading through your work and adjust the tense wherever you see an inconsistency. For me, in order to keep with the flow of the story, I find it’s easier to first skim over the narrative and change the past differences whenever I see     them. Then you go back over the story a second time to catch whatever you     missed; I find I make Present tense into Perfect Past way too easily, so     the second go-through helps me define what tone I want to use.
  • Then Get Feedback: After working on something for a long time, it’s     easy to become blind to the intimate details of it. You’ll end up ignoring     what is Present tense when it should be Past, and so on. Have a friend, a writing companion, or a friendly reader just go over it and highlight any     portions that seem out of place or that clearly switch tense; it works     great for catching typos too.

Now, for Too Many Commas:

Okay, so I’m a professional editor, but I’ve been a writer and a reader for much longer; what all three positions have taught me is one thing: punctuation is stylistic. There are certainly some hard and fast rules, but the reason so many writers say “learn the rules, break the rules,” is because you can manipulate the clinical rules of sentence structure and punctuation to suit the tone of your character, your story, and your pacing. I totally advise being wise about it; learn what the proper structure and rules are. But if your character is having a panic attack, having a run-on sentence might actually work for you. If you character is very professional and well-spoken, very strictly phrased sentences may be to your advantage, old sport.

Nonetheless, to help with the clinical edge of commas, check out these resources:

Where Do I Use a Comma

Extended Rules for Using Commas


A Guide to Proper Comma Use

Feel free to test out your own methods; every writer is different and that’s what makes books so much fun.

Thanks for your question, and happy writing!

i feel like people who type with capitalization and correct punctuation on the internet 24/7 really have their lives together i always write like a paragraph of run on sentences i honestly don’t give a damn about looking professional on a blogging website