The power of words

Have you ever read a newspaper column where the writer tells you he/she has really nothing to say, but somehow fills the column with words? I’m kind of at that stage as I sit here looking at the blog wondering what I should write.

Words are my life. They have given me employment for 42 years, so perhaps I should have paid more attention in English class. Putting words into coherent, funny or serious content is what sells papers, books and ideas. They tumble out of our mouths when we speak, and some people excel and mesmerise others when they rearrange those words in an order that can inspire us. Insults are usually delivered verbally rather than with hand gestures. Praise is something you can only deliver with words: a bonus, meal out or gift does the trick too, but there’s something much more meaningful in hearing someone say “well done”, “great job”, or “thank you”.

Words can be used negatively too, to belittle others. Those words can wound in a fashion every bit as deadly as a knife. And the scars left behind can be just as severe.

I spend my working time editing, ensuring reports and features are factually correct, the wrong word isn’t used, and acting as a grammar policeman. I even get to write headlines, which thrills me as much now as the first time I wrote one.

I get to play with words too when I write letters (rarely now), emails, my blog, and occasionally features. I’m a wordsmith whose job means I have to decide which words are eliminated from a report that simply won’t fit into the required space on a page. Depending on the complexity of the copy, it’s possibly the most enjoyable part of work – deciding which words to ‘save’ and which should end up on the scrap heap.

The great thing about a blog is you can let the length flow and save every word you write, but the chances are you’ll edit your post before hitting publish. You’ll do this not just to correct some spelling errors (heaven forbid you should have any), but also to express more clearly what it is you want to say. Hopefully, those words will deliver your message, and with any luck you’ll register many hits.

More than that, though, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve channeled so many words into your post and that they convey your thoughts in a coherent fashion.

We also deliver words in another medium – speech. Some of us have the vocabulary, but neither the confidence nor passion to vocalise properly. I’m a pretty moderate speaker myself, and there’s a certain amount of trepidation in me before I open my mouth, be it on radio or on a stage. I have the words but can’t quite get them out. Which is why I’m blogging this post. But it’s something I’m working on.

I love the power of words. Use them wisely.

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