It’s hard to write a book. It’s even more difficult to write a book well−the perfect word at the right time. No filler passages. No fluff words. Only specially crafted sentences created to maximise effectiveness and get the message across.

Sometimes, it feels impossible.

Because, no matter how hard we try, bad habits start to creep into our writing. For me, this is usually in the form of crutch words. You know, those harmless words that are entirely unnecessary but start infiltrating your text. Just. Only. Well. So. Actually.

I first noticed I had a crutch word when I started seeing the word ‘just’ running rampant through my chapters. At first, it didn’t seem like a huge deal. What’s wrong with a couple ‘justs’ in a chapter? What harm could it possibly do? Out of curiosity, I searched the word ‘just’ in the manuscript. Over a thousand hits.

In other words, a problem.

This happened about a year ago, and since that moment, I ruthlessly removed ‘just’ from my vocabulary. I went as far as refusing to write it in emails, texts and messages. I went cold turkey. And it worked. For the most part, my writing is now just-free.

Unfortunately, a couple months ago, I found a new crutch word: So.

I’m not sure when I started using it, but suddenly it was popping up all over the place. The start of dialogue, randomly in the description of actions. Everywhere. So, I have been trying to scrub it from my lexicon…it’s a work in progress.

The key thing is, I’m aware of it now. And, I can keep an eye out for it.

Identifying your personal crutch words is an important step. Because, once you know about it, you can fix it.



Another blog post means another two weeks in the lab has elapsed. New Zealand has moved down to Level Two in its Covid response since my last post. And now my lab days are almost back to normal.

Most of my lab mates are back, and the everyday lab activities have mostly returned to the pre-Covid days. Except with physical distancing, obviously. This means I’ve finally been able to properly get back into the swing of things.

Harvey and Louis have been working around the clock, pumping out new compounds everyday. If you want to reacquaint yourselves with my lab equipment click here. Mike risks his life twice a week, and has proven to be a trooper over the past couple weeks.

Unfortunately, Pat the potentiostat lives in another building which we do not have access to during Level Two. Maybe I will be able to use him again once the country moves down to Level One. Until then, Mike, Harvey and Louis will have to do.