Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Power of Words

Confluence...synchronicity...alignment... Ever feel your worlds aligning?  This post is the result of such a feeling...

It is "W" week for ABCWednesday, my good friend Karin posted the powerful YouTube video (below) on Facebook, and it is the end of the year...we reflect and make resolutions for 2013, and a colleague totally misunderstood an email of mine and was hurt (you know who you are - and I am sorry)... So what am I writing about this week?

The Power of Words 

It seems like such a simple thing - words. We use them all the time, often not really thinking about our choices or their indirect effect. Writing emails, letters, speaking with friends... word choices can make such a huge difference, and so often we forget this.

Choosing words wisely and contemplating their significance takes time and consideration. And, while essential, EDITING is often a quick afterthought. Truth is, editing is a skill - and one that most of my students are so reluctant to do. They hate it and in truth, I often do too.  But,we all need to remember to look at spelling, grammar, keeping the content in one consistent tense, and most importantly, word choice (one of my 2013 resolutions).

I have a friend and colleague who is young, single, and dating.  She advises her single girl-friends that before emailing a guy they're interested in, to send it off first to a girl-friend (whom she calls a 'gate keeper')  for two reasons. One to pause and reconsider even sending it (is she sounding too eager, too harsh, too sassy, too cute....) and if she should send it, does it convey the message she wants. She's smart!

So here is my gift to you, my loyal friends, followers, and valued guests...

 The Gift of Words -in three parts
  •  a video
  •  editing guidelines / advice
  • suggested links or editing resources and for illustrating lighter side of word power

Here is a video "Change Your Words - Change your Worlds." While this ironically also emphasizes the power of image (visual literacy), it is provides a powerful punch at the end emphasizing how the words we chose to use can make a huge difference.  Enjoy - it's worth the time!

So what can we do? Here or some suggestions I give to students and revisit myself.

Editing advice:
  • Write a draft in a "Word" document. When finished look for red squiggly lines (that point out spelling errors) and green squiggly lines (pointing out grammar and tense errors).  Work on getting rid of those lines. Often the word program will give suggestions (especially with the spelling).
  • Once you've taken care of the red and green lines (spelling, grammar and formatting), go back and re-read your piece. Read it OUT LOUD.  This way you can hear as well as see awkward, incomplete, or over-burdened sentences.  IF you have trouble reading the sentence or passage smoothly, your readers will too - so change it!
  • Now reread it another time with these guidelines in mind:
    • Trim long sentences
    • focus on word choices - are they used correctly? Do they convey what you want to convey?
    • Do your sentences and paragraphs flow one into the other or do you need a sentence here and there to bridge your thoughts/points?
    • Check that names are spelled correctly, check that you are using the appropriate synonym, homophone and tense.
  • Take a rest but don't send it yet.  Come back after some time and read it over one more time. Read it one final time:
    • Does it say exactly what you want it to say? 
    •  Is the message clear and succinct? Will your readers understand the intent, inferences and content? 
    • If yes, you're ready. If not, rework it a bit.
My favorite books for kids illustrating the power of words:
  • Douglas Fredericks and the House of They written by Joe Kelly, illustrated by Ben Roman is about a boy who wants to do so many creative things but "They Say" it can't be done.  This is a wonderful book about language and the power of creativity and determination. (Ages 6+)
  • Frindle by Andrew Clemens is an awesome book about what makes a word a word. (Ages 6+)
  • Many Luscious Lollipops (a vibrantly illustrated kids' book about adjectives and rhyming); A Cache of Jewels (a vibrantly illustrated book about collective nouns); Kites Sail High (all about verbs) ---by Ruth Heller are three of her books about words (ages 5-8)

Awesome word-related links:
  • For laughs on POOR word choices that could not be retrieved here are some sadly funny political gaffes and "Quayleisms:
  • For more laughs emphasizing the power and need of proofreading and editing, here is an awesome video of Taylor Mali's slam poem "The The Impotence of Proof Reading"
  • Here is a post on how to "Understand Spelling Errors to Raise Better Writers"
  • Here is a with a nice editing checklist
  • From:

  • This is a SUPER handout from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Writing Center on Word Choice. It discusses misused words, jargon, 'loaded language', wordiness, cliches, writing for an academic audience, repetition vs. redundancy, building clear thesis statements, strategies for successful word choice, final editing questions to ask yourself, and it contains additional references.

Thank you all for your visit.  Please leave some of your editing tips or word of reflection or kindness in the comments.


  1. Visiting from Mom's Mingle. Such a great post. I really need to slow down and edit more!

  2. Such a great post.
    following you via I Love My Online Friends 'GFC' Blog Hop. foolow me back.

  3. As an editor myself I couldn't agree more.

  4. I love that video! Your suggestions for editing words are wonderful! I'm re-writing a book of mine for a new publisher and this post will help me so much! Thank you!

  5. I find, especially when I don't write something all at once, that I fall in love with a certain word or phrase and use it too often. Thank Allah for synonyms!

    When I blog, I tend to be more deliberate, though I'll make an occasional error. Facebook, though, is where I'll more often write something that I could have said better.

    Of course, you well know that the METHOD of communication matters. In person generally better than the phone, and that better than e-mail. (That's why God created the emoticon.)

  6. Words are definitely important, especially with so much online communication. Once it's out there in "writing" you can't take it back..

    Thanks for linking up for WW :)


  7. Your posts are always so informative and well written. I hope you have a happy holiday season.

  8. Another wonderful post for all of us ~ all ages ~ Excellent ~ ^_^

    (A Creative Harbor) ~ aka ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^

    Thanks for coming by and Happy Holidays to you and your family ~ ^_^

  9. Another post that I can use with one of my students whom I tutor. He has difficulty with writing so we've decided that after Christmas break, we will work on a research topic of his choice. Hopefully, your "words" will help him to improve his sentence structures and word choices.

    abcw team

  10. Great article! Love the video. I am struggling very often with words, partly because English is not my native language, but still - I would love to improve :)

    Thank you for linking up at my WW: Instagram Images w/Linky @ ImagesByCW

  11. I'm glad I listened to all that grammar and writing stuff in school. I do love that video.

  12. I totally agree! That video was beautiful!

    Happy WW!

  13. Thank you for this post. One of my resolutions for 2013 is to pay attention to my writing - mainly consistency in my writing, and this post comes at the right time!

  14. What a great and interesting post! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Words do have the ability to impact, create, affect, it never hurts to take precautions in what you're saying. Thank you for the share.

  16. Oh my gosh, you brought tears to my eyes after watching the video! Word do have a huge impact, right words helps and wrong words can tear someone apart.

    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  17. My childhood dream of writing a book was reawakened last week and I'm hoping to start writing one soon. Your advice will definitely come in handy.

    ♥ aquariann
    Featured Photo: Night of a Thousand Candles

  18. interesting & valuable post! Thanks to MS word,it is bit easy to edit a blog post before posting...
    Have a great day!

  19. The top Google searches are interesting and a bit scary.

    An Arkies Musings