Writing is all about words: falling in love with them, coaxing them, wooing them, worrying over them, playing with them, cutting them, adding them, and even, like Shakespeare, inventing them. Writers are word lovers and when we love them hard and long enough, they love us back.
Here are some writerly thoughts on word wooing to inspire and motivate us all:
“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well, they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.” Ursula Le Guin
“The price of learning to use words is the development of an acute self-consciousness. Nor is it enough to pay attention to words only when you face the task of writing — that is like playing the violin only on the night of the concert. You must attend to words when you read, when you speak, when others speak. Words must become ever present in your waking life, an incessant concern, like color and design if the graphic arts matter to you, or pitch and rhythm if it is music, or speed and form if it is athletics. Jacques Barzun
“Words are to be taken seriously. I try to take seriously acts of language. Words set things in motion. I’ve seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges. I’ve felt them doing it. Words conjure. I try not to be careless about what I utter, write, sing.” Toni Cade Bambara
“A writer who has never explored words, who has never searched, seeded, sieved, sifted through his knowledge and memory…dictionaries, thesaurus, poems, favorite paragraphs, to find the right word, is like someone owning a gold mine who has never mined it. Rumer Godden
“Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence. It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose that the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice. Barbara Tuchman
“One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.” Hart Crane
“When I feel inclined to read poetry, I take down my dictionary. The poetry
of words is quite as beautiful as the poetry of sentences.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Savor them in your mouth, try them on your typewriter.” Ray Bradbury
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Wordsworth
Word lovers unite — and write on!