by Phoenix A. Desertsong, Staff Writer, Healer & Advocate
How you choose your words in writing is essential. As a writer, the importance of your word choice should seem obvious. But, sometimes when you sit down to write, you just write whatever comes to you.
Sometimes, I’ll be thinking about something and my lips will start moving or my fingers will just start typing. I may not give myself time to necessarily make the best word choices.
On paper, rambling on and going off on tangents isn’t always a terrible thing. You can always edit your words later. But in speech, sometimes choosing the wrong words is pretty dangerous stuff. At times, a poor word choice just ends up amusing someone. But other times, the wrong word could have someone taking what you said the wrong way. The same thing can happen in writing, if you’re not careful. But what you can learn with your word choices in writing can affect your word choices in speech, too.
It’s best to choose the right words in the first place, whether in writing or speech. If you don’t feel that you’re saying something as well as you can, make sure that you don’t leave your words open to the wrong interpretation. Yes, there will be readers (and listeners) who will read things into your work that you didn’t intend. Those misinterpretations can lead to a learning experience for both you and the reader. It’s best to treat them as such, even if you are the only willing party to actually learn from the experience. But, sometimes both parties can be the best for it.
How Can Careful Word Choice Limit Misinterpretation
What’s the best way to limit misinterpretation? Don’t be the one always trying to give answers. Ask yourself: "Should I first be asking more questions?" There's always so much more to learn. Better yet, it rarely hurts to find new ways to phrase and rephrase things. There are many ideas that have never been perfectly conveyed. Then again, can any idea be perfectly conveyed in words?
As a writer, the best you can do is the best you can do at the moment that you write something. Every writer is going to write a stinker here and there, and simply not publish them. But even published works that gain a good audience are going to have their flaws.
It distresses me when I see one of my works in print, even one that was well received by the intended audience, and I’m simply not happy with it how it is. If you’re not happy with some of your work, chances are you’ve learned something that you'll want to address in the future.
Can You Be Too Critical of Your Word Choices?
Sometimes, you have to be your own worst critic. So, welcome the critics when they come. At times, the critics will simply have their own opinion through no fault of your phrasing or word choices. But, before you publish anything, make sure that the piece is the best thing you can produce at the moment.
Make sure your words are saying what you intend them to say in the best way you know how. True, no one is perfect. You can always learn from the mistakes. But the better you do in the first place, the more your writing, and perhaps even your everyday conversations, will be the better for it.
~ Phoenix <3
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