Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Danger of the Written Word.

People talk about the "power of the written word," but there’s also a danger to the written word.

And there’s a weird sort of thing that happens when you practice writing every day: you get a competency for writing. You can wield it in very strong ways. Just by the mere ability to organize your thoughts into coherent paragraphs makes even an email or letter more powerful than an average email or letter.

My English teacher told me that phrases such as "I think" or "I believe" weaken your writing.

Lately, I’ve found myself taking comfort in that. I start peppering my emails and studio letters with I thinks and Maybes and Perhapses, in a way to consciously weaken my writing.

In nonfiction writing, strong writing makes opinion sound almost like fact. That’s its strength. But for me, I’ve never been comfortable in that role. I believe what I believe. I believe it passionately, and when I write it coherently, it’s persuasive.

Unfortunately, sometimes. I mean, sometimes I sound like I know what I’m talking about, even when I’m just talking, or thinking, or spouting an opinion.

I’m not always comfortable with that, you know? I’m willing to hear the other side. In fact, being a Libra, I’m more often going to take the opposite side as a way to flesh out the whole picture.

Now give me fiction, and I’m more than willing to write an argument both persuasive and subtle, with every technique I’ve got in my arsenal.

8 bonus scribbles:

Stephen Parrish 12/09/2007 12:18:00 AM  

I think (ha!) intelligent people know that everything we say, no matter how persuasively, is an opinion. "Pink elephants exist" can and should be stated without prefacing the fact that it's the author's opinion.

Bernita 12/09/2007 05:46:00 AM  

Hmmm, I use a lot of I-thinks-perhaps-maybes on my blog.
I consider the usage courteous to possible conflicting opinions rather than weak.

Edie 12/09/2007 12:06:00 PM  

I use "think" a lot. I've heard that if you use "see" words a lot, your visual sense is the one you learn from and relate to. Ditto with all the other senses. This must mean I'm a thinker. :)

spyscribbler 12/09/2007 04:50:00 PM  

That's a good point, Stephen. Maybe I should just write.

Your blog is perfect, Bernita. I don't know if I particularly think it's weak. I was blindly listening to my English teacher, LOL. It might be smart to think for myself, huh?

LOL, Edie. I have to go through and delete "I looked" like crazy. I think I'm visual. But I'm attuned to sound; it can drive me bonkers, LOL.

Liz 12/10/2007 09:05:00 PM  

What an interesting post! I think (ha!) that everytime I swear off blogging it's because someone has misinterpreted my strong opinions and I regret having stated something so strongly.

Brings a whole new meaning to "writing practice".

writtenwyrdd 12/13/2007 06:26:00 PM  

I also use "I think" and "I believe" or IMO a lot when blogging. I try not to come across like I believe I am the be-all and end-all on any particular topic, especially writing where we are constantly saying "These are the rules...unless you can successfully break them."

Lots of great posts I've been catching up on, spy.

Erica Orloff 12/13/2007 08:11:00 PM  

Oh, Spy . . . I just cried. I didn't know. I adore him . . . how utterly devastating. That is what I fear most . . . or one of the things. I am so sad, now.

E

spyscribbler 12/13/2007 10:19:00 PM  

Liz, I know the feeling! Sometimes I think I should be more strong and less agreeable, so it's not a bad practice.

Thanks, Written! I do the same thing. I sometimes used to say imho, but then I figured I'm not all that humble, LOL. Love the IMO!