100 days ago I set out on a challenge to not use an exclamation point. I’m happy to report I’ve made it.
The first 10 days or so I think were the toughest. As soon as I stopped using exclamation points, I noticed just how much of an exclamation mark abuser I was. It seemed I wanted to put one in every other sentence. Or a few just to punch up the excitement. I had become sloppy and unrefined in the way I write. I took the easy way out. My day to day communications were the beer bellied couch potato of the written world.
Without my pointy crutch, I had to be more creative in the ways I expressed enthusiasm and excitement and added emphasis. This didn’t prove to be that difficult when I had no limit to the amount of words or characters at my disposal, like in a blog post. Notes, text messages and tweets proved the real challenge. Emoticons became one of my staples. A friend even made me a cheat sheet of emoticons to use with a corresponding legend of how many exclamation points each one stood for.
I discovered using an *asterisk* to emphasize a particular word, continuously expanding my vocabulary and artfully arranging my sentence with well placed punctuation. It most definitely took more time to craft, and not all of my notes/texts/tweets saw this benefit–but not once did I use an exclamation mark.
And so I finish this challenge with a new appreciation for taking just a brief moment to review and polish what I put out there. Exclamation points have their place, but from here on in, they’ll remain in a healthy balance.
I think maybe ellipses will be next.