If in doubt while writing, don’t resort to “think”.
When I struggle with a piece of writing the phrase “I think” or “I was thinking” creeps in — hard evidence of uncertainty and hesitation. After all, what goes on the page is plainly what I was thinking. Flagging it with the words “I think/thought” is just awkward.
Don’t worry about it on a first draft. Just be alert. I sent a profile to my brother, knowing in my bones it wasn’t right. He responded immediately:
There is too much verbiage trying to setup the story instead of just telling it. If you cut out the parts that say, “this is what I was thinking” and let it be “this is how it is” it will read fine.
Lo, he was right. After killing a couple of “I was thinking” paragraphs it came together a treat.
Natalie Goldberg, in the indispensable Writing Down the Bones, puts it thus:
It is important, especially for a beginning writer, to make clear, assertive statements. “This is good.” “It was a blue horse.” Not “Well, I know it sounds funny, but I think perhaps it was a blue horse.” Making statements is practice in trusting your own mind, in learning to stand up with your thoughts….
So even though life is not always clear, it is good to express yourself in clear, affirmative statements….
But while you are practicing writing, do not worry if you see yourself using those indefinite words. Don’t condemn yourself or be critical. Just be aware of it. Keep writing. When you go back over it, you can cut them out.