3 Tips From The Writer’s Bible That Can Be Used In Conversation

3 Tips From The Writer’s Bible That Can Be Used In Conversation

If talking had a font, would your voice be serif or sans-serif?

When I think about how I got my start in writing and found my passion, my most vivid memory depicts my high school journalism teacher screaming “There is no excuse to use exclamation points!” at the frightened freshman class. He terrified me, but I became a better writer. Why? Because it’s difficult to forget something if it’s presented to you at a loud enough volume. I still use exclamation points, though.

After applying the style tips I’ve gathered throughout the years, I’ve found myself using them in conversations as well.

The concept of thinning out the fluff from a piece of writing is my favorite. We’ve all heard people go on for what seems like half an hour explaining something when it could have taken them half the time to do so. My go-to phrase when I experience this with fellow writers: “Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Omit needless words”. If you can condense your idea or story, do it. Give the reader or listener the instant gratification. More likely than not, they’ll get a better understanding what you’re trying to say this way.

This brings me to my next style tip for conversations: avoid using complex words or foreign languages. Writers use this for the same reason we think it’s best to use foreign languages. Just like the concept of “omit needless words”, the point is to make your message as clear as possible.

In high school, I had a teacher who thought he had a degree from Harvard, but reality told a different story. He used unnecessarily complicated words and vague phrases and never explained what they meant until it was time to complete an assignment. Is it just me, or is googling your teacher’s choice of words an interactive part of lectures these days? I couldn’t continue listening until I found out what he was talking about, and lost bits and pieces of the message.

When people use fancy words for no reason, I feel like Hemingway talking about Faulkner.

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

If your audience isn’t bilingual, why say, “She was a bona fide expert in American history” when you can replace it with “genuine” or “respected?” Sure, you might sound smarter or like you have a master’s degree from an Ivy League school, but you risk the listener feeling uncomfortable and unable to keep up with the conversation if they’re not familiar with the term.

It’s like when you go to the doctor and they explain the problem, and then you have to say something along the lines of “So what exactly is wrong with me?” or, “Sorry, I don’t speak doctor.”, and then they dumb it down so you can actually take steps to get better. The average patient doesn’t have a medical degree and therefore doesn’t know all the jargon.

Finally, let’s talk about conversation length versus quality. As long as it holds together, a paragraph may be of any length — a single, short sentence or a passage of great duration. The same can be said for an idea or a conversation. There’s no standard for how big an idea has to be or how long the conversation must go on.

I could break the paragraph right here, for example.

Sometimes you have a quick thought that needs sharing. It’s perfectly fine to make the conversation short and sweet. Avoid the small talk if it’s going to cause you anxiety. After all, the fluff will distract from your main point. When speaking about something important, be short, sweet, and to the point.

“I enjoyed my time at the tea party, but not at the dinner.” Gives the same basic idea as “I savored my time at the early afternoon tea party, but the dinner portion of the party was certainly not as pleasant.”

We’re all communicators by nature, but sometimes we forget to embrace the comma, pause for a minute, and re-work our thoughts into words. There might not be an “Elements of Style” for life, but how we write about it is a pretty good place to start.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Not Alone in our Loneliness

It happens to the best of us, but don't let it get the best of us.

The fear of loneliness is a real one and from it stems a lot of other basic feelings.

Ever get scared that you’ll end up “forever alone”?

Ever get FOMO?

Ever fall into peer pressure?

Ever feel the constant need for approval?

Ever seek affirmation?

Ever get the gut-sinking feeling that nobody else in the world gets it?

All of these derive from the fact that we are all afraid of being left alone. We’re afraid of not being “good enough” for others to like us. We’re afraid that if we stand out, we’ll stand alone.

Well- let me clue you in on something. You’re not alone. All of these feelings are so common. Except, we never talk about them for the sake of bottling our emotions and not scaring people away. Because we believe the lie that everybody is “fine” and nobody would get it if we opened up about these empty feelings we sometimes have. It’s a never-ending and discouraging cycle.

A cycle, yes. But a pointless one. Why hide the fact that this basic human emotion and fear is felt and experienced? The fear of loneliness is insanely present in a lot of lives and we must come to terms with the fact that, even if it isn’t expressed, it’s there. And, when you dive into it and cut to the core, it makes sense.

We have an inherently natural instinct to desire human connection. It’s in our DNA. In Genesis, it is written that man was created in the likeness of God. What one thing does God desire more than anything else?

Us in a right relationship with him. He desires intimate, real, open, and vulnerable relationships with us. He wants nothing more than for us to cling to Him and walk deeper and deeper with Him.

So, realizing that God, our Father, craves the same connections and has defeated the same unsatisfactory feelings of loneliness that I have and will experience is the most comforting thing in the world.

Jesus is the calm to my chaotic thought. The peace to my pity party. The comfort to my confusion. The hope to my helplessness. He is faithful even in my fears. He satisfies my heart when my mind tells me to run. He pulls me close when my mind says I’m never good enough. He loves recklessly and pursues endlessly.

My fear of loneliness and everything encompassed within has been taken to the grave and has been defeated by grace. And so has yours. Because of His fearless faithfulness, I no longer need to fear loneliness because my heart will be fully satisfied in Him.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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When I Have Nothing Else To Do But Trust

2018: a brand new year.

I've never been one to have new years' resolutions because, well, I never actually find success in them. This year, however, I've jumped on the band wagon of choosing a word for the year.

With the close of 2017, I was in a season of impatience, loneliness, and anger. I had no idea what God was wanting to do with my particular circumstances and I was annoyed with the waiting process. That's not surprising because if you know anything about me, then you will know that I am probably the most impatient person on this earth.

I hate waiting. I hate not knowing what is going to happen. And I hate not being in control. But God is in the midst of every one of those things.

He's a patient God and He knows the future. So what gives me the right to rush the journey?What gives me the right to not trust God? To not trust His processes and His actions? To not trust what He brings to the table and in my life?

Throughout 2018, I will be committing myself to trusting God, to trusting His reasonings and His seasons.

So what does trust mean?

To me, trust means finding the calm in the storm; believing in patience and the waiting through trials; nurturing and appreciating doors that are necessary endings; staying still with praise on my lips; crying out when I feel the loneliness of college doom on me; allowing myself to breathe and grow mentally, physically, and spiritually; believing that although I am just a tiny speck on this earth, I am destined for my own specific and important journey.

On the first Sunday of the year, I prayed a prayer about endings and beginnings. I prayed for the Lord to lead me out into waters and dry lands that leave me with no other option than to trust Him and His work. I prayed that He lead me to the point of embracing the grace that He so freely gives, not lends; because we have a Father that gives with no return in mind besides love and trust.

If I'm being honest with you, 2018 scares me. I'm nervous about where God will send me this year and what trials will show up. I'm worried about what Satan will throw in my way to blind me of the promises of the Lord.

But no matter, I will trust in Him and stay still, because in doing so I will find strength in Him (Psalm 27:14).

Cover Image Credit: Mandy Parsons

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