Saturday, November 20, 2010

More 4-Letter Words Writers Need to Purge

By Nikki Studebaker Barcus

Last month I talked about a 4-letter word that slipped me up--"just". I asked you to think of all the things you "just" do. That word trivializes many of the important things we do every day. We don't "just" write non-fiction or devotionals or greeting cards. Writers write. Therefore if you do, you are. We don't "just" pray We aren't "just parents". We need to get rid of our case of the "justs".

I wondered about other 4-letter words that we writers might need to ban from our vocabulary. I don't think we need to go so far as to make a date with a bar of soap like in my younger years, but perhaps we can find other useful ways to void our vocabulary of a few more Writer's Swear Words.

Only--The whiny younger brother of "just", only does nothing but stop us from celebrating who we are and what we do. If God gives you words, write for Him and celebrate every hard-fought one of them. Who cares if you "only" write grocery lists and school notes? Those things are important to the life God's given you to live now. So what if you "only" wrote 500 words on your current WIP. That's 500 more than you had yesterday and 500 closer to The End.

Can't/Wait/Fear--These fraternal triplets crop up in my writing life from time to time. They paralyze us and keep us from getting started or submitting what we've completed because of all the unknowns. If you feel as though you "can't" then find someone who can help you. Read a book, ask the Loop, look on-line for the answers you need to continue. Don't "wait". Just like when my kids wait to obey, that's not really waiting, it actually disobedience. Don't wait. Get busy and get something on the page. Satan is a master at using fear to keep us from our calling. Bravery is acting on what you know is right despite the fear. Be courageous and tell Satan to hit the road.

Done/Quit--These bad boys come from a variety of sources. Their family names might be fear, laziness, or pride. When you are tempted to let these suckers slip past your lips ask yourself why. What's the cause behind your giving up? Are you too afraid to keep going because you feel unprepared? Then prepare yourself. Find the answers to your questions, seek critiques, search for someone further down the writing road. Maybe it's laziness that has you throwing in the towel (cliche intentional). Writing is hard work, so instead of quitting, find new ideas, fresh ways with words, or dive deeper into an area where you may be lacking. Possibly it is pride that has you down for the count, in the ropes, tied to the tracks. Sometimes it is easier to quit something while you still have your dignity rather than try and fail. It is a simple lesson concept that if you don't try, you can't fail. But you can't win either. Remove these words from your vocabulary and commit to the long-haul.

What about you? Do you have other words that you've had to purge? Our self-talk can be some of the nastiest, most vile speech we ever hear. Get rid of them--with or without the soap.


  1. Great job.
    Unfortunatley, I am the "just" king. I have to do a word search in ms and eliminate the just. I do, however, allow I person to have this speech tag, but I still try to keep within reasonable limits. Of course, I have to also go in and purge the "Okay" "Alright" and even a lot of "Yes" words.

  2. This is just a great post! I only wish I could quit using them! Can't seem to stop!


    Most excellent. It was good to see you at the state meeting with your friend, too. Wish we had more time to chat.

  3. Wonderful post Nikki. Great reminders for an on-going battle.

  4. Crystal--are you Done yet? Don't you think you should Quit? :) Thanks, it was great being there and always great to hear Doc Hensley.