New Year’s Resolutions, cake and curmudgeons

This year my writing resolution is simple:

No more than one exclamation mark a month.

Or at least, no exclamation marks unless they’re justified. I hate them; they look like a social media rash and they make me reach for the wet wipes.

Still, having spent a lot of time on Twitter (or at least more than I meant to), they’ve burrowed their way into my writing, not because everything I say warrants an exclamation, but because in some weird way, it makes tweets look friendlier, or bubblier, or something.

@traceyupchurch Cake!

Oh, don’t get me started.

@traceyupchurch Cake.

So, so much more ‘me’. In fact, I don’t even like cake, apart from Mum’s. So, Mum’s cake. Does anyone even need to know about that? No.

That’s my resolution. To be more me.

Curmudgeonly yours…





  1. sxchristopher says:

    This was wonderful, especially the part about a social media rash. The exclamation point certainly seems at home on FB. Some of the posts I read seem to be one long parade of exclamation points, literal and metaphorical, each striving to heighten the poignancy or intensity of an experience without providing much of the detail that would lend credibility to the claim of importance. The mark (and often the post) asks the reader to supply the details that a writer or good friend ordinarily gives us; it may call attention to itself but it points as much to what is missing as what is there. Claim and ellipsis at the same time.

    Your post reminded me of my own writing resolutions. I haven’t made any for this year. I’m still working on getting rid of “perhaps”. S./

    • TU says:

      Hey, good to see you here and yes, parades of exclamation points are now a common feature in adult writing. On the flip side, though, I love the word ‘perhaps’, a really modest, gentle little word. I should probably use it more.

  2. TU says:

    It’s true, social media is redefining how we use punctuation — at least on Twitter, Facebook, or in text messages and the like. I think, though, readers do adjust their perceptions according to the writer and people will define their own styles and accommodate each other’s. A friend of mine will only send perfectly punctuated, grammatically correct texts (English teacher), whereas my mother used full stops instead of spaces for the first year of having a mobile phone. All fine.

    The other thing I’m getting rid of is kisses. Most of my texts come in with ‘x’ or ‘xx’ at the end (fair enough, these are my friends and family) but I’m seeing more on Twitter, too, where most of my contacts are strangers or online friends. These people would find me very, very scary if I ran up to them in real life and planted a kiss on their faces. We’d all be rummaging for the wet wipes; it doesn’t bear thinking about.

  3. marymcavoy says:

    I’ve been trying to kick the ! habit for over a year now. I’m better, but not completely. Thanks for joining me on the no ! wavelength. (Normally I’d put one at the end of that sentence to make it fun and friendly.) (Also, in that sentence in the parenthesis.)

    Perhaps two people working on kicking the ! habit will work better than one. (Yep, would have been one there too…and right there after the “too” also.)

    We have to be very careful though….read this:

    I’m thinking of going with strings of thought separated by a hyphen – that way I’m sure to not misstep or mis-message and either annoy or offend – it’s just so hard to know how to keep the intended tone once you become self-conscious about using either the ! or the .

    And God knows this ; ) is so overused – but please know that it could be sprinkled all through this comment –

    The End

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