I don’t mean to get obsessive about this but I wanted to jot down a few more ideas about thinking. In particular I want to reference something I discovered while revising the first draft of my novel. As I go through the printout with red pen I found that I had far too many commas. I remembered Greg Proops talking more than once how he doesn’t like commas in writing. He’s referenced the author Cormack McCarthy as never using them. That’s true although I admit that it makes it hard to read dialogue in his books sometimes. As I kept marking out the commas in the draft I thought about what exactly I was achieving through using them. The only think that I could think of was that they give pause in the middle of the sentence. I was possibly using that pause for dramatic effect. I’m not sure. But when I take them out and re-read the sentence I found that the quicker the feel to the sentence. The dramatic effect then was much more desirable given the tone of the book.
When I wrote the first draft I wrote those commas without thinking about why. With my kick lately of trying new ways of thinking I started to question it. I came to the conclusion that those pauses were in my train of thought. Now I take this back to my take on over-thinking. I wrote that the over-thinking was caused by my taking time to think things through too much. Now I understand the reason why: too many commas in my thought process. I’m pausing my thoughts too much. I digress too much. Perhaps this is why I get so easily distracted. I need to work on cutting out those pauses even when I’m thinking.
As a result I will go ahead and practice meditation again. I have more time now so I don’t know why I ever stopped in the first place. I also need to practice that free-writing exercise in the morning I proposed before. Maybe these things will help me learn to focus my thoughts into one direction. If I really have a good idea that comes to me I’ll write it down but for the most part I want to cut out unnecessary information. I find Spock does this a lot in “Star Trek.” He’ll often put aside what he considers unnecessary information when making important decisions. I don’t have a Dr. McCoy nearby to keep putting the other ideas out there. Somehow I think I could live without that.
Don’t think I’m putting down commas in every use. They’re practical when it comes to writing lists. This helps when I feel that I need to write a series of steps a character takes to do something necessary to the story but boring to write out in separate sentences. It also feels proper when transitioning from dialogue to something like “he said.” I’ll still put the commas in the dialogue when I want to convey that the character is pausing. Having some characters speak this way and some without pausing is yet another way to give each character their voice.
It seems that thinking clearly about commas not only has good use in my everyday thinking. It also helps to improve my writing. You’ll notice that I purposefully used no commas in this blog post. I made a conscious effort to do so but I don’t know if I will all the time in the future. I write these posts rather quickly so the commas that appear in my thoughts may appear on the page. I’m hoping that by cutting them out of my thought process in the future they will go away here as well.