Syllables Are My Kryptonite

Every writer has a weakness.  For fiction writers, it could be lackluster dialogue or flat character descriptions.  For memoirists, it could be fuzzy chronology.  My poetic weakness is syllables.

Ever since I was a speck of a child, words entranced me.  I loved the sounds, the meaning, the look of certain words.  My mom says I never just said ONE word, I had to say two… minimum.  Some chalk it up to being a female (which is a stereotype), but it’s just because I love language.

I can’t count a word’s different parts. Maybe it’s my innate dislike for mathematics, but syllables trip me up unless it’s the easiest word in creation (and even then, don’t bet on it).  I add more syllables than there should be to almost all of them.

Take the word “dropped”.  One syllable.  My brain sees it as two:  Dropp-ed.  I tend to stay away from sonnets and other forms of poetry that require syllable-counts because this strange linguistic addition always leads me to the wrong amount needed for correct compositions.  It’s frustrating.

I tend to use syllable-calculators (yes, they exist) when I feel the need to create something with metered lines.  It makes me feel like a bit of a fraud, to be honest.  I’m mostly compelled to write free-verse poems, so it isn’t that much of an issue.  Over the years, I have made a type of uneasy peace with my incompetence.  (Just as a side note:  I have tried every device out there taught in elementary schools, it doesn’t help.  I will add extra claps regardless, by Gods!)

What is your writing weakness?  How do you compensate?


  1. My writing weakness is spelling. The issue has been mitigated by the omnipresence of spell-checkers, but they don't help the underlying issue of my inability to spell at all. Mom always said she couldn't understand how someone who spent so much time reading had so much trouble spelling.

    1. It is pleasant, to have spell-check. I used to spell well, but I second-guess myself at every turn when I'm writing correspondence by hand. I'm uncertain if the reliance on technology has dulled my skill... or my confidence.