Proceed to get it done

This is a great paragraph from the "Rewriting" chapter in Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life. Mario Milosevic has recently mentioned this aspect of writing over at his blog (he calls them "crutch words"), and I've noticed the same horror flowing from my own fingers everywhere from this blog to all my journals to anything else I ever lay into via a keyboard of letters making words.

This is Carolyn See:
Every writer has a set of "favorite" words, words that break out in his or her head like a bad case of hives. For years I could never get a character just to "eat a hamburger." He would have to "proceed to eat a hamburger." Then he couldn't just "wash his hands" afterward. He would have to "proceed to wash his hands." It was a tic! It was a disease! It was like one of those carnival games where a wooden gopher pops up and you whack it with a hammer but then another wooden gopher pops up: Proceed! Proceed! Proceed! But at least, once I realized it, I could proceed to control it. Or at least try.


Greer said...

Oh, this sounds familiar! Looks like this is a great book, I'm going to try to get it at the library today.

Ami said...

My grampa Dan was a logger. Loggers don't "proceed". Loggers don't do anything, but they commence alot, like, "I commenced to chop down the tree." Nothing happens to them either, like the time he came into the kitchen all shook up. "I was under the hood and must have thrown her into gear and the damn truck commenced to run into the garage."

Willa said...

LOL -- taking it further, since I have been thinking about your personality inventory post, I wonder if you could analyze what the crutch words say about the author.

I overuse "tend to" and "a bit". I had to delete them even from this short comment : ).