Tag Archives: Robin Williams

Avoidance

During a fiction writing class, our professor gave us a sheet of words. It was titled, ‘Words all Writers Should Avoid Using.’

The other week, I was given another web page that was basically a full on rant about several different words that are used too often and should never be used. There were 5-10 words on the list.

My only problem with this is that each list is almost completely different. Some words are shared throughout– almost (hah), suddenly, nearly, really/very, like– considered weak and detrimental to the piece. Though I try to take each of these seriously and understand the reasoning for all of what I see, plenty of the words listed seem as a matter of opinion.

Of course, then you run into weak words versus strong words. There’s the old speech that Robin Williams gives in Dead Poets Society, proclaiming that the word ‘very’ is lazy, and encouraging them to use other words to describe it, because there are an abundant amount more than just the single word. To which, I will agree with this; there are words that are plain weak and water down the writing when used, but finding words that sound more beautiful in the stead of those is about more than just looking in the thesaurus. It’s about changing your language entirely.

The boulder was heavy in his palms.

Simple as it is, can be changed to…

The weight of the boulder was bearing down on him. 

In another example, I’ll take my sentence from earlier.

It’s almost completely different

To…

each is totally different, save for some choices…

Substituting words can only go so far, so it becomes a challenge to make the language and sound more diverse, intriguing, capturing.

Which reminds me of a challenge issued by Chuck Palahniuk, to depart with all “thought” verbs, not to show that a character is thinking. So no, “wonders,” “muses,” “considers,” etc. And to keep up with it for six months. Though I still find it a bit daft, I like the difficulty it presents. It forces you to think of other ways to go about showing what you want to say about what’s in the character’s head, or to forgo it.

We want our words, our content, to be as strong as possible. The more we challenge ourselves to be more fluid and diverse in what we have to say or how we say it, the sharper we find ourselves.

I wanted to show some of the sites that I mentioned. Though there are many more of them, here are a few examples:

From freelancewriting.com

This one from litreactor.com 

And this from tameri.com

Weak words, those that are vague and provide little to nothing about what you mean or are referring to, should, by all means, be cast out at any and every opportunity. When faced with “things,” “something,” and “stuff,” try to be precise. Being specific is the difference between strong language and a flaky one. It is also, as one of those sites suggested, a way to show confidence in your writing.

-The Novice Wordsmith

You Matter – National Suicide Prevention Day

This strays from what the blog is centered on, but this day has a big enough importance to me that it deserves the attention I’m going to give it.

I can start off by saying something about Robin Williams, but I know this disease is gripping more people around the community, the country, and the world, than simply to just give one example. He is the biggest example at the moment, for those who haven’t seen this up close, but I am willing to bet, with how many people follow my blog, and with how prevalent depression is, that there isn’t at least someone who’s lost a friend, or a family member, or a classmate, to suicide.

And the worst of all is that I’m sure one or two of you may have thought about it yourself. I used to.

I lost someone very dear to me to suicide. It was probably the most difficult thing I’d ever gone through, and I still remember sitting up at night, crying, saying that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Because it’s not fair. It hurts, bad.

My biggest plea is that you matter. You mean something to any person in your family, in your group of friends. There is so much more to you than a noose waiting in the closet, or the balcony outside of the hotel room at the seventh floor.

Backing up just a second, for those who haven’t gone through this, it may not have as much of a meaning. It may just be another day, another well-meaning organization is trying to boost awareness, and that’s that, let me elaborate on that:

To Write Love on Her Arms heads this day. They started back in 2006, I believe, where people would simply write love on their arms. I remember hearing about them through high school, and that’s the target, typically, for them. Teenage kids who are going through bullying, who are going through a very rough time, but they exempt no one. Their biggest effort is to get people to understand that it is a disease, and that it can turn someone into something that they aren’t. That, ultimately, suicide is something that they convince themselves that is the only way out.

IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY OUT.

It isn’t. There is so much more you can do. I know it’s hard to get out of bed, I’ve seen it. I know it’s hard to try and smile, to try and do anything else but cry, but don’t force yourself if that’s all you can do. It’s okay to feel so much, but you have friends, online or in person, that will help you. They can hold onto you in whatever way possible, they will strive to make you better.

The death of Robin Williams opened the eyes of a lot of people. It showed that some people feel like they are beyond saving. It showed that it can be very difficult for any person, no matter how big they smile or how much they make you laugh. It showed that, those who bring the greatest joy, often feel the deepest pain.

It showed that the disease is real, and it helped lift some of the stigma of mental illness in our country, and the world, which is staggering.

Hug someone today. Someone who is hurting, if you’re not. Realize that you matter, or tell them that they do. Don’t worry. Breathe, take it a step at a time. It’s okay to feel too much. You are not alone. You’re here, and there are so many people who don’t want you to go, including me, no matter how little I know you.

Spread the word. Spread the love. Remember that you have love, from friends and family.

Please don’t hesitate either, if you’re suffering from depression, to talk to me. Send me a message and I can be here for you if you need someone to be. If you’re afraid to talk to anyone else. I understand. And I love you.

Thank you.

-The Novice Wordsmith