I’ve always wanted to go to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, but rarely had a chance to get there. Once upon a time, I think I went there on a school field trip, but it was a long time ago and I had never gone back since. Until this weekend.
But even as I was walking the flight deck, looking at the planes, my thoughts turned to writing and I began to muse how these vehicles and powerful weapons were not so different from the words we craft as writers.
Think about it. These military planes, the Cold War Era submarine U.S.S. Growler, the space shuttle Enterprise, these are all tools in the hands of people. And like any tools, they could be used for good purposes… or not-so-good purposes. In the hands of a skilled writer, words can have huge creative benefits or cause serious destruction to the human spirit. Words can persuade people and open their minds to new ideas, or they can brainwash people and convince them of grave untruths.
This time of year, as a presidential election approaches, there are a lot of words being thrown about. Some words are being used with care and precision, while others are being slung the way an ogre might wield a club. As a writer, I must confess that the blatant disregard for accuracy that we’re seeing is rather appalling. It’s not my job to pick sides, and frankly even if I have chosen, I don’t think either side is completely free from blame. If anything, we should place a higher burden of truth and honesty on our leaders, because their ability to influence people with their words means a higher responsibility to those same people. (Yes, I am making a Spiderman reference.)
But before I wax philosophical, let me get back to the central point of this post. There are tools–I’m dubbing them “Creative Power Tools”–that are like power tools for your creativity. The first power tool is Words. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be doing a series of posts on these different Creative Power Tools and why they’re important. I’ll also talk about how to use these tools to maximize your creativity and get the most out of your writing. This is all building up to an exciting project that I’m launching later this fall with Dan Blank of We Grow Media. Stay tuned because it’s going to be exciting.
Creative Power Tool #1: Words
There are only two things you need to remember:
- Use with caution. Words are powerful. You wouldn’t point a loaded gun at someone unless you had a really good reason for doing it. So why point a loaded sentence? Weapons can destroy people’s bodies but words, if misused, can destroy people’s minds. You tell me: which is more dangerous?
- Use with precision. In our culture, we’re like the verbal equivalent of someone wielding a machine gun, scattering words every which way, hoping one or two will hit the mark. Instead, we should strive to be verbal snipers, applying our words with precision and accuracy.
I often joke that as a writer, I make things up for a living so technically, I’m a professional liar. I suppose on a literal level that might be right, but I think as writers, the burden is on us to be fully honest. We might bend the truth in order to shed light on the Truth-with-a-capital-T.
So go let’s go out there and use our words with caution and precision. And let’s show those clowns how to do it right.