Words: The Writer’s Tools

For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (James 3:2, NASB).

To revitalize my blogging, I have been taking a course on “Blogging 101” on WordPress this month. This post is in response to a pair of assignments in that class: A few nights ago, we were instructed to comment on a few other blogs; now, we should write a post related to one of our comments.

Recently, the author of “Ramblings of a Writer” posted about bloggers and other writers who use profanity. In the anarchy of the Internet, it was a refreshing observation. She had decided against following a fellow blogger because of his use of coarse and foul language in his posts.

The Internet has sparked a revolution in publishing. When I attended college, becoming a published writer was an accomplishment. You had to get hired by a newspaper, or have your book accepted by a publishing house, etc. You did not just wake up one morning, decide “I’m going to be a writer,” and make it happen by the end of the day. You might think you are a talented writer, or that you have something important to say; but if you could not find an editor or publisher who recognized your viability as a writer, too bad.

Today, anybody with an Internet connection can publish a blog. That opens new doors for authors: professional writers can have another outlet for their work; people like myself, whose training has brought them into careers where they work “behind the scenes” of publishing can find an arena to share their thoughts and ideas; creatively-minded people looking for a chance to be heard can find an audience.

Unfortunately, it also means that shallow persons with big egos and no talent can put words on a page. It also means that some writers operate without a sense of professionalism or class.

In response to the post on “Ramblings of a Writer,” I wrote the following:

I feel the same way. I think that profanity is not only unnecessarily offensive: It’s just plain lazy speech. It’s easy to pull one of George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on television” out of the hat to express an emotion: It’s more clever to choose a unique combination of words that people will remember.
REAL WRITERS are artists who use words as their medium. Potty-mouth profanity perpetrators sound like overgrown children trying to convince the world that they should be heard.

You would not hire an auto mechanic who does not know the difference between a lug wrench and a screwdriver. You should flee a medical doctor who does not know how to use a stethoscope. You expect a professional or skilled laborer to know how to use the tools of his trade.

Writers use words. These are our tools. We craft them into sentences, ideas, paragraphs, chapters, and articles. On a good day, we can agonize over five different synonyms, trying to find the one that most effectively expresses our thoughts and emotions.

I understand that some writers may have a valid use for profanity. An author of fiction wants to make his characters sound real. There are some people in literature who will not sound believable if the worst thing they say is “Fiddle-diddle-dee.”

As a Christian writer, my goal is to use words as a gift from God. One of my goals should  be to write in a way that honors Christ. That goes beyond avoiding George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on television” (a few of which have found their way onto network programming). Saint Paul writes,

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6, NASB).

Words matter. The spirit and heart behind the words matter. I admit, I can do better in my choice of words, especially in conversation when I’m under stress. As a writer, though, my goal is to build people up with the gift God has given me, not to use my tongue (or my pen, or computer keyboard) as a weapon to harm others.

2 responses to “Words: The Writer’s Tools”

Share Your Thoughts and Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: