Today, we depart slightly from our usual #5onFri programming to share a couple more installments of the Writer Fuel essays. Stay tuned for this afternoon, when I will share the third essay in this series.
Newsletter subscribers get a sneak peek at these essays before I post them. They can also help crowdsource this column, by replying to my emails or sharing their perspectives in our Facebook group.
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Dear word nerd,
As the parent of two kids under age five, I find myself saying “Use your words” a lot. Use your words has become a euphemism for: “Stop that inappropriate behavior and talk it out.” But what happens when the adults in our world—our very leaders, in fact—are misusing their words? As a writer, this gives me great pause.
Because I am a writer—because words are my superpower–—the First Amendment has always been the part of our constitution I have held most dear. But expressing our ideas is not something we are entitled to or owed, and we must treat that freedom of expression with deep respect. If these past weeks have shown me anything, it is that there aren’t enough people in the world who understand the power of their words.
It is up to us writers to fix this.
My challenge for you today is to take responsibility for your creative work and use your words.
By this, I mean three things.
1) Own your words.
Tell your story. Stand your ground as a writer. Don’t wait for someone else to say what you want to say. Don’t rely on another person to speak out. You don’t need anyone else’s permission save your own. Use your words.
2) Use your words responsibly.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Yes, I did just quote the cheesiest line from movie Spiderman, but hear me out. As writers, we know how to bend and shape language to our will. While we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must also recognize and respect the power we can wield.
“Show, don’t tell” goes beyond the pages of our story. It does us no good to speak out against words gone bad, if in doing so we sink to the same grotesque level as those we are criticizing. As writers, it’s our job to model good behavior, and show the world how to use words with empathy and responsibility.
3) Remember that you have an incredible gift.
Just as words can harm, they can also heal. Just as speech can polarize and divide, it can also bring people together and unite them toward a common goal. As writers, we have the power to use our words to change the minds and hearts of others. This is magic. It’s a superpower. Our superpower. And it’s our responsibility to use it.
Use Your Words
Yesterday I shared a piece where I talked about service, and how as the instigator and leader of this community I have shifted to embrace service as one of my personal (and entrepreneurial) core values. Today I’ve addressed the topic of responsibility and next week I will share my thoughts on gratitude. But most importantly, stay tuned for when I post another essay this afternoon. In it, I will share my thoughts about one of my favorite topics, but and one that also terrifies me. This topic is: Love.
In the meantime, go write something and share it with the world. It can be a poem, a blog post, a tweet, a paragraph of your NaNoWriMo manuscript… anything! All that matters is that it’s yours. Your words. Your story. Your voice.
Sharing our words is like lighting a candle in the dead of night. Alone, one candle can almost get lost in the darkness, but if we all stand together, our candles will light up the world.
Loads of literary love,