I was going through the comments that my friend Gina made on my SCARAB manuscript when I found the following: “Kate presses her lips together quite a bit. Check for this.”
Using the search function on my computer, I did just that. Not only did Kate press her lips together quite a bit, she and a few other characters pressed their hands against their foreheads all the time.
Another writing friend, Sondy, cured me of blinking–at least for the most part. Yes, I’ll use one or two a manuscript just like Stephen King will use the occasional adverb in a tag line.
In first drafts, however, I’ll continue to use blinking and lip-pressing all that I want. These personal writing quirks and cliches can serve as signposts in later drafts that I want my character to react in some way. Blinking tends to be an indication of surprise while lip-pressing often means that my character would like to say something, but knows better than to blurt out the first thing that came to mind.