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Sunday, August 21, 2016

What I Learned While Editing: Life Lessons With Grammar!

If you ask a writer/author if they enjoy editing, there's a good chance you'll receive a groan in response before they launch into horror stories of plot flaws, massive rewrites, and deadlines.

Once upon a time, that was me. Mention that "E" word and my body would automatically launch into a series of shudders while I silently   prayed to my muses for the ability to write perfectly. Editing isn't necessarily a bad experience either when you find an editor that's a good fit with you and your writing style. But I'm sure each author has at least one painful memory regarding this necessary part of the process. We push on. We move forward. We develop thicker skins and see it for the gift it can be -- the ability to improve our story telling.

Anywho, I just released Bittersweet Symphony, my 14th book, and I love that editing has become something I actually enjoy. There are still things that make me moan, but for the most part, it's a chance to learn new things and if it makes my story tighter, stronger, and flow easier ... then bring it on! It was during this last manuscript where I was working with grammar that I got to thinking ... punctuation. It's not just squiggles, dots, and dashes ... they can also be applied to life! For example ...


I love the meaning people have attached to the semi-colon! It's a powerful reminder that no matter what happens, how dark things get, or how it feels like your life is coming to a painful end ... hold on because it gets better! It's empowering to know that we have more control than we think and that we truly can decide how we tell our story. So next time something happens that stresses you out and makes you panic, remember that this is but a brief pause. Life continues. Don't end your sentence just because things get tough. Take those moments to simply breathe and find your way again.


This punctuation mark is used when you've finished a complete sentence. It indicates the end of a sentence ... a thought ... a feeling by the one writing. To me, this is kinda two-fold because:

1. It let's me know that there will always be a natural end to things. If I'm experiencing something awesome ... APPRECIATE IT. If I'm going through something challenging ... HOLD ON. It comes down to the one thing I can control at any given time -- my attitude.

2. Life is made up of multiple beginnings and endings. We're in constant flow and change. If you're anything like me, you don't always let go of things that hurt us, instead storing them in our memories so we can beat ourselves up later. The period is a great reminder that it's okay to let those things go. Don't let the past keep you from discovering happiness and new opportunities for the present and future. Realize that everything has it's time and season. Learn what you need to and then gently place that period down. End it. Then boldly continue on in confidence!


If you've ever seen my posts on social media, I'm kinda a hashtag junkie. I love them. They're definitely useful in making information easier to find and are great for trending, but honestly? I also think their FUN! Most times, the hashtags I use could be part of the post content, but I like being dorky! #DoingMyThing #Sinceriously #CantEverHave2Many

I've even conducted an interview with another author where we responded with hashtags. What I've learned is life is too short not to sprinkle some silliness and fun throughout your day. I can't count how many times I've smiled or laughed out loud over other hashtags. It's a great way to also express your personalities! #BeYou #GoHashTagCrazy #BeARuleBreaker #IDareYou


I've had the thought before but it came up again during a scene I wrote in Bittersweet Symphony. There are different kinds of dashes, depending on what you're doing. For this example, I'm referring to the kind that links to points together. When someone passes away and a headstone is made for their grave, you'll see the date of the birth and then death separated by a dash. This signals they lived from point A to point B. Their life is everything in between.

Don't you think that makes this punctuation mark POWERFUL? In one simple stroke it encompasses SO MUCH ... each second, minute, hour, day ... well, you get the point. A person's existence is held within that dash. It reminds me that it's the small things that make up a life. Every day isn't a series of fireworks and grand gestures of awesome. Yes, we have them but we also face mundane things. We think they're insignificant but they're not. Celebrate all parts -- EACH MOMENT -- not just the dates we've deemed important.


Finally, this is one of my favorites! Why? Because there is NOTHING wrong with being excited and passionate about your life. A writing rule is that we're meant to use these marks sparingly. I remember when I first started, it was something I got dinged on by my editor. Over time, I've slowly stopped using them as much (unless I'm posting on Facebook. Ha!) and that got me thinking as well.

How many times do we allow others opinions or the rules dampen our excitement? 
How many times do we want to celebrate and squee over something but hold back?

Life is meant to be enjoyed. I've dealt with depression for more than two decades and there were definitely times where I found no reason to smile and have fun. I couldn't see the positive or silver lining. It was beyond hard to see anything light. My life began to change when I made a conscience effort to always try and find something to be excited about. I didn't care what it was because it was all about baby steps. Those moments that were easier to breathe through. Each minute where my smile didn't feel so forced and reflected genuine happiness.

So while exclamations are frowned upon in writing ...

EXCLAMATION YOUR LIFE!!!!!! << see! haha

Thanks for reading my post! I love being able to share my thoughts and would love to hear yours. Feel free to comment below!

Love, Bels! 


  1. I love you more than words can say!!! I love every word you have every fact your written words were what drew us together as friends!! Thank you for your kind heart, and how open you are to your fans!!!

  2. Love you, too <3 I'm glad everyone enjoys my darkness! hahaha

  3. I don't think I have ever seen/read an explanation of punctuation with relation to life. I know that I have certainly never experience one that contains such sincerity and accuracy! I have to be honest I have been a hash tag hater eve since it was morphed from the pound symbol and built up in social media with this new found fame of the hashtag. That is until now. You have given me an entirely new outlook on what the hashtag could represent if allowed the opportunity. It is that very word in itself, OPPORTUNITY. I also don't think I have met a person with as similar passion for my favorite form of punctuation of all, the spectacular and all to underestimated and often discouraged Exclamation point! I love this puncti5and use it to my fullest desire every time I type something I feel a strong emotion for. I don't simply reserve it for times of excitement, I use it in all forms of elevated emotion! Thank you so much for sharing this side of your world Belinda, you have given me a gift with your written words through your books and have now found a way to allow me to connect with you in a more personal way as well. I truly cherish your talents and your passion for life and look forward to whatever craziness may be coming next. Thank you so very much for being and sharing the amazing person that is uniquely you!!!