Just Words


My younger brother and I were both interested in the arts when we were boys, but whereas I was drawn to the page he was drawn to the stage and eventually the screen. We were talking about our separate choices one day, and he admitted he was somewhat puzzled by mine. “I don’t get it, Bill,” he said. “With books all you get are words.”

He was certainly right about that. And I fully understood what he meant. When you tell a story on stage you have words plus sound and sets and actual people moving around saying those words. Often those actors can express things without saying anything. And on the screen you have music and sound effects and that camera, focusing the viewer’s attention as it zooms and moves or remaining perfectly still, framing the world like a painting.

But on the page all we have are words. It’s an interesting challenge. So much of life, our subject matter, is made of physical stuff, and words are just thoughts given some shareable form. How do you render the experience of being human, of having a body with five senses that moves through time and space, into just words? This is where what we call craft comes into play. If you are a writer, you simply must be interested in this particular challenge. You must be interested in a general sense – how the rhythm of sentences effect the reader, about the power of nouns and verbs - and in a particular sense how you can render the very thing you are writing about at that moment. I don’t know how to stay interested in writing if I am not also continuously interested in this challenge.

If you are interested, you may have begun to notice this: The more I have practiced translating the experience of being human into nothing but thought, the more I have come to understand that most of that experience is influenced solely by what I think about it. Perhaps it is a writer’s bias, but at this point I wouldn’t know how to separate thought from experience. In my mind, the latter is merely an expression of the former. Which is why writing has been so helpful to me. To write is to think on purpose, to choose the thoughts that only serve your story. The more I learn to choose the thoughts that serve my life, the more my life is something I’m creating, rather than something happening to me.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com

William KenowerComment