Signed up for NaNoWriMo! ...Did you? Who's for it, who's against it, does it matter?
Read this brief article
(on FWD/Forward) about how odd it is to read "She couldn't breathe. Her heart skipped a beat" when you actually HAVE been in that situation and it's a little more crippling than feeling a little shocked at the time. There's a lot of descriptive shorthand and embellishment like this that authors use - that I use, too. I keep thinking I should pay more attention, and sometimes during re-read and edit catch really embarrassing mistakes that just sounded right at the time.
The point of the article was that people who have not had these conditions don't realize how odd it is to use them to describe something completely different. The same criticism could extend to a lot of other examples. In some situations I suppose it's obvious it's meant metaphorically - "the realization hit him like a sledgehammer" doesn't actually mean the character's skull is suddenly split - but then again it's easy to overuse gestures such as blushing, quirking an eyebrow, tapping a foot, frowning and sighing when people usually don't blush all that often. It's hard to find some other indication for embarrassment, scepticism, impatience or displeasure even though these states manifest in a lot of different ways.
I guess there should be a healthy balance between metaphor and reality, and a good visual and kinetic idea of how the character's emotional reaction shows in her body language/reactions other than just applying trope gestures (though, when appropriate and not overused, some of those can be good too). I never tap my foot when I'm impatient or irritated. Sometimes I swing it. Sometimes I tap a pen on the table. Mostly, then, I frown, twist my mouth a little and type angrily/walk faster, or begin shouting. When I'm shocked by a turn of events, everything goes a little hazy while the new facts sink in; I can't muster the brain focus to move or act. I do breathe, as it happens automatically. My heart rate might be affected, might not - I can't tell, I'm too busy being shocked. Oh, and hah, notice how we keep saying "shock" and "panic" when those medical states are a lot more intense than the states we often use those words for?
Anyway, food for thought - editing thought, anyway. I'm not going to worry about ANY of this stuff while writing next November. The reason I find NaNoWriMo fab is that it forces you to get the bulk of the writing done, after which it's all just editing, cutting, adding and molding until it all actually works.