As writers we may often find ourselves stopping and thinking about our own words, words we read or words we hear others say. Words are useful for naming, explaining and claiming what is ours. Words can also denigrate, devalue or tear down an individual or collective group because of race, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, physical ability or other characteristics can have effects reaching far beyond the moment the words were uttered. The N word shouted or whispered in just the right tone in a crowd led to the lynching of thousands. Other words have led to horrendous cases of gay bashing and other hate crimes.
Words can be devastatingly hurtful.
Yet, much can be accomplished with the right word at the right time. A pastor or friend can comfort those enduring difficult situations or assuage grief for those in mourning with well-chosen words. Poets can spark a revolution with a metaphor. One voice—just one word—can move a multitude to actions. Likewise one affirming word and a spirit is lifted.
Words can heal and calm.
For writers words are the tools used to express themselves, to raise their voices in political and social situations, as well as to comfort and heal, explain and argue, tell stories that are true or not true. Writers seek to harness the power of words.
Words offer us a way to act as change agents in our world. Making conscious decisions about which words to use and how to use them can change our home, our neighborhood, our school, and our world.
Prompting Writing Possibilities
Write about what you want your words to do. Your writing may take the form of a poem or personal essay. Think about:
Who are you speaking to?
What change do you wish to see?
You may want to include specific words you might say.
What are the results of your words?
You might begin with: “I want to say……” or I want my words to…