Collecting Words

I recently finished reading the book A Snicker of Magic about a girl who sees words all around her and collects them.  She shares them with her best friend but is too shy to turn them into poetry and speak them in front of a group.

Here are some of her words and what she says about them.

Offering

Sacred

Everlasting

“Words that belonged in a sanctuary filled up the spaces between the three of us.  But those words looked as fine there as they’d ever looked in a church, and I wondered if there was something sacred, something everlasting, about melted ice cream and summer days and good stories.” –Natalie Lloyd, author

I believe sharing stories is a sacred act.  It creates an everlasting bond between you and the listener.  Don’t be afraid to use your words or share your stories.  The world needs them to survive.  Stories are the glue that holds us all together.

I used to be afraid to share my stories, too, but not anymore.

As an exercise, I decided to collect some of my own words and see if  I could string them together into something meaningful.

Marshmallow

Poppy

Magic

Magic marshmallow dreaming leads to red poppy success.

Try collecting your own words and fitting them together like a child playing with blocks.  You might just build something really unique.  Something that can hold you up.  Something that can change the world.

 

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Go to the Well

People go to wells for many reasons– water…wishes…words?

I enjoy receiving book recommendations.  Recently someone suggested On Writing Well  by William Zinsser.  Since it’s a guide for nonfiction writing, I paused before picking it up.  But then I thought, why not?  Thank goodness I did.  Turns out the wisdom found in its pages works for all kinds of writers.

Here are some highlights!

“Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is.”

When writing, go in search of humanity and warmth.  “Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading…”

My favorite chapter is titled “Clutter.”  Follow this advice to help declutter your writing.

  • Don’t follow a verb with a preposition (“order up”)
  • Don’t add an adverb when the verb itself does the job (“smile happily”)
  • Don’t add an adjective that states a known fact (“tall skyscraper”)
  • Avoid using qualifiers that weaken the sentence (“a bit,” “sort of”)
  • Avoid using phrases that don’t mean anything (“in a sense”)
  • Avoid following up a sentence with another sentence that essentially says the same thing.  (You can also cut sentences that give info readers don’t really need to know or can figure out on their own.)

Astonishing fact: “Most first drafts can be cut by 50 percent without losing any information or losing the author’s voice.”

***How do we get our own style?***

Trick question!  “First…learn to hammer the nails, and if what you build is sturdy and serviceable, take satisfaction in its plain strength.”

If anything, “Sell yourself…Believe in your own identity and your own opinions.  Writing is an act of ego…Use its energy to keep yourself going.”

Here’s some advice on fear and confidence from humorist S. J. Perelman.  “The reader has to feel that the writer is feeling good…Even if he isn’t.”

“Writers have to jump-start themselves at the moment of performance, no less than actors and dancers and painters and musicians…You also have to [be the one to] turn on the switch.  Nobody is going to do it for you.”

And what’s my new mantra from this book?  “Get on the plane.”  You never know where your words will take you.  But they won’t take you anywhere, unless you have the courage to write them.