Rushville Republican

August 23, 2012

Wolfsie: You have my word on it

Dick Wolfsie
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Many of the devices in my home have features I wouldn't dare mess with. My TV remote has an option that says LOCK. As someone who once got stuck in his garage naked, I'm not looking for any more trouble.

Our dishwasher has a switch that says AUTO WASH but I'm not really sure how I'd get the Prius in there.

The clothes dryer has a WRINKLE SHIELD setting. I would like that one installed on my forehead. It's best not to annoy your appliances, so I'm going to push as few of their buttons as possible.

However, as a writer, I'm not averse to programs on my computer that facilitate the creative process.

For example, there is a neat feature on my Microsoft Word 2010 that keeps track of how long I have worked on a particular text. Now I can get a pretty good idea of the time I could spend doing something worthwhile, instead. By the way, the software simply counts how many minutes I have had the document open on my desktop. It does not include the hours I roll around in bed, slamming my cranium into the headboard trying to come up with a topic to write about. That's in the 2012 version.

My editor, Heidi, also suggested that I try using the helpful Find and Replace feature to help me avoid redundancy. She showed me how to enter terms and phrases into a search window to see if I have overused any in my weekly columns that I am now compiling into a new book.

I refused, at first. I just didn't think that as an experienced writer, I would have fallen into such lazy habits. But I made a bet with her that our little experiment would actually demonstrate that I was pretty good at avoiding needless repetition. But she was very confident that I would lose the wager.

Heidi e-mailed me a list of words and expressions to check at my first opportunity. She reminded me that I begin a lot of sentences with the word "but," even though it is grammatically permissible. But, she cautioned, I shouldn't overuse it. Ê

Here were the results: In just the last 75 columns, I had used the word "very" 189 times.

Also:

Pretty/ 187 times

Just/ 134 times

Even/ 156 times

Actually/ 109 times

I think/ 78 times

I started scores of sentences with the word "but." Almost a hundred times, actually. When I saw the final results, I think I was pretty much in denial, so I even went back and re-read a few of my favorite essays because I was very sure that this was just some kind of computer glitch. I discovered the program was actually pretty accurate.

This word repetition problem is something I was unaware of. That's why I went over this column one extra time. I just want to please my readers. That's actually very important to me.

But I just think you pretty much already know that.