The True Meaning of Words by Gloria Weber

As writers we all know the power of words.  However, some words get certain connotations and we make presumptions.  For example, odorous.  I hear that and I hold my breath, because I assume that the odorous house smells nasty.  However, the actual definition of the word is “having or giving off a smell.”  So roses or freshly baked cookies are odorous.

When I started writing, I had certain preconceived notions about some words.  For example, routine meant the same as rut.  Rut means “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” Ruts aren’t very good for writing.  However, routine means “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”  There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

I unintentionally started developing writing routines even when I tried shunning them.  I’d always come to the computer with a beverage.  I’d play music or make sure everything was quiet (depended on my mood).  I opened my writing program.  These were (in fact, they still are) the signals that let my writer brain know, “It’s time to shine!”

But this is not a rut!  Things change. It isn’t always the same drink (time of year and what’s in the house colors my choice).  My music (or even “silence”) preference depends on the task and my attention span for the day.  Sometimes I will the writing program and then go get my drink.  And some days none of that happens at all.

Routine isn’t rigid like rut.  Unlike rut, routine is good for my writing.  Heck, routine, I’ve come to find, is quite comforting.

Routine wasn’t the only word I got wrong.  I used to be a pantser because “plotting made everything boring.”  Plotting means “devise the sequence of events in (a play, novel, movie, or similar work).”  It doesn’t mean know every word and minute detail involved.

It’s like knowing you’ll drive down the highway, but there are no promises.  There could be an accident that slows you down.  Maybe you get hungry and stop to buy some nachos.  Just because you know the path it doesn’t mean you know the entire journey.

So, I invite you to look at some words you’ve shunned or feared. Do they mean what you thought they meant?  Could you look at them another way?  Could they help you?

~*~

Gloria Weber

3 comments

  1. Every project brings us new insights into how we write and what processes we use. Thank you for highlighting that curious yet sometimes unpredictable way we write. As a long-time pantser, I often go undercover as a plotter. We can learn from both. A lovely article.

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