This past Sunday the sermon at church was about the power of our words. We were reminded to be careful with our words as they can be forces for good or ill and can bring hurt or healing. The message was based on a passage from Proverbs, but the Bible is filled with references to controlling our tongues and our words. God speaks most about those things we have the hardest time learning.
The sermon included an interesting fact that my husband and I discussed in the car on the way home. According to the pastor, we humans on average speak 700 times a times a day with a total word count of between 7,000-20,00 words. To me, that sounded like an awful lot of words. I looked it up online and it was correct, with one caveat. Men tend to be at the lower end of the word count and women at the higher end.
I do not want to get into the debate of whether women speak 13,000 more words per day on average than men. In my household, with a gregarious, extroverted male and an introverted woman wed to one another, I think the statistics might be reversed. I tend to be much more verbose in my writing than in my speech. Still, I thought about all of those words and wonder how much of what we say is really important. That is a post for another day, perhaps.
The pastor went on to talk about how some words possess so much more meaning than others. Sometimes a single word can convey volumes, especially in certain circumstances. That thought led me to consider words that carry a great deal of meaning all by themselves. I decided this week I would make a list of prompts that are all just one word in length.
I came up with longish list, but decided to confine the prompts to five. All are words laden with a variety of meanings and connotations depending on the perspective and experiences of the writer. They may not be easily defined, but they are words about which we all possess strong memories and ideas.
For your free-writing session today, set your time for 10 minutes, select one of the words below, and immediately start the timer. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the word. Write whatever your first thoughts and ideas are.
The word may spark a memory, an opinion piece, or fictional scene. Keep your hand moving and continue to write until the timer sounds. If you finish an idea, allow another to flow in and keep writing. When time is up, keep going if you have an idea that has energy. Write until you have a sense of closure with your piece.
Try each of these words this week in a fee-writing session and see where they lead you.
I will post my free-writing for a word on the list next week.
As always I would love to hear about your experiences with the writing.
Below is my free-writing from one of last week’s prompts. It is a slightly fictionalized version of a real event. I edited it only for clarity and spelling from my original free-write.
“ The most frightened I have ever been” 10 minute writing.
When I was about 7 my mom, my grandmother, and I went to my Aunt Eugenia’s house to have lunch. My brother was spending the day with my grandfather because on a previous visit he had practically destroyed my persnickety aunt’s living room by knocking over her grandfather clock which fell onto a glass bookcase and destroyed many of her beautiful knickknacks. After lunch I quickly grew bored with the chit-chat at the table which would likely last all afternoon. I went outside to escape my aunt’s wary looks, as if I, too, possessed destructive potential ( I did, but that’s another story). I loved Eugenia’s huge yard because was filled with all kinds of gorgeous flowers. I wandered to the back of the property, where, hidden from view of the house, my cousin Mike had built a tree house. I climbed the wobbly boards nailed to the tree and enjoyed a spectacular view of their neighborhood. When I heard my mother call, I descended the ladder and was confronted by two enormous, snarling German Shepherds who belonged to the next-door neighbors.
I froze as the dogs advanced, baring their teeth. I screamed in terror and backed up against the tree. At that moment their owner appeared and called them off. I stumbled through the garden crying and yelling for my mother. I fell at least twice skinning a knee and my palms on the rocky path which ran through the flowerbeds.
I don’t recall anything else about that day, but from that incident I developed a strong fear of large dogs that remained for many years.
Thanks for reading and keep on writing!