Words have power. They've always had power, right from the very beginning when there was just The Word with God. It was words that brought the universe into being, and it was also just words that allowed evil in. Satan didn't have to overpower humanity, he just uttered a few simple words.
It is therefore no surprise that James warns, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:1, 6). As writers, this should terrify us.
In my first year writing, I flooded the world with more words than 90% of people throughout history wrote in their entire lives. I started blogs, did guest posts, submitted articles and self-published three books. All in the hope of getting noticed amongst the tsunami of writing crashing down on the world.
Of course, I was sure God would reward my efforts, the time I spent creating these words. They were for him, after all. It may come as a surprise to you, but he didn't. It took me a while to realise, but he was not impressed with my lack of respect for the power of words, or my lack of control in using them.
Then I got a challenge: to take an 80,000 word manuscript and make it 40,000. When asked to do it, I thought it was a joke. But I started. I cut out every spare word, florid description, and tangential plot I could. It's now 60,000, and I've learnt more about writing in deleting those 20,000 words than I ever learnt in writing 200,000.
So I'm taking up God's challenge to purify through fire all of my writing. Though, since that includes over 460,000 words worth of drafts, don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for a while. And yes, the process is as painful as it sounds. But the results should be pure gold.
So how are you learning to tame your words?
(And by the way, this post was originally 1,000 words long.)
Still happy with her two non-fiction books: The Five Day Writer's Retreat and The Nice Guy's Guide to Online Dating Profiles, both available on Amazon.