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The power of words

I remember, back in college, the moment I lost my desire to write.

I don’t remember what year it was, what day it was or even what I was wearing. I do remember, though, the room it happened in, where I was sitting and the person who spoke the words that made me want to disappear into my chair.

It was in a playwriting class. Each student was responsible for writing a one-act which were then read aloud. We critiqued one another’s plays – nothing too harsh, just good, clean, criticism meant to inspire each other onto better things.

But there was one guy who had it in him to put everyone down. No one’s play was good enough. Except for his, of course.

The day that my play was read aloud, I was already so nervous that I was sweating bullets and my mouth was dry as paper. I knew there were some flaws here and there – what with it being my first play and all, haha – and I expected to hear some constructive criticism mixed in with some nice comments. I did get those things, except when it was this guy’s turn, he had nothing nice to say.

At all.

Maybe because it was my play. Maybe because I was already so nervous. Maybe it was the cool, self-important look on his face. His words stung. I was embarrassed and humiliated.

And I put down my pencil and I didn’t write anything for a long time.

I finished the class, of course, but I was running on empty and didn’t really care about my writing anymore.

covington blocks

Years later, I think about that guy. I wonder where he is now. I wonder if he’s writing. I don’t see his name in any literary magazines, on any books lists or on any blogs I frequent. I don’t know what happened to him.

Since then, over the years, I’ve thought a lot about writing creatively again. For my job, I do plenty of writing – but it’s for other people. I enjoy it, but it isn’t the same. I dream about what it would be like to have a published novel. Go on a book tour. Write a story that makes people laugh, cry, scream… everything a good novel should do.

Honestly, it was not until several weeks ago that I felt the courage to write again. It was an off-hand remark, playfully spoken by my sister-in-law, that lit the spark and made me think I could do it. She said:

You should write a book. I’ve always wanted to say I’m friends with an author.

We were laughing and joking around but the words rolled around in my head for weeks. They are still rolling around in my head. It’s nothing earth shattering. But it was the way she said it – like she knew I could do it – that, I think, broke that block I’d had for so long.

A few days ago, my mom said something to me that was the final push. I’ve been working on building my freelance portfolio and was hoping to get this one particular job. It was perfect for me – I knew I would do great at it and it seemed like an amazing opportunity. I ended up not getting hired and it was a huge blow to my confidence. I mentioned to my mom that I didn’t get the job and she told me that I shouldn’t be disheartened because I’m so talented.

I’m talented.

It’s one of those things you suspect about yourself, but you don’t really want to say it aloud.

The point of this is to tell you two things:

Firstly, never underestimate the power of your words and the impact they can have on others.

Secondly, never underestimate yourself.

One more thing – every November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I’m going to participate, for the first time, this year. I probably won’t come out with a novel, but I will come out with a lot of words on a lot of pages that maybe one day can become a novel.

If you’re thinking of participating, let me know in the comments and we can cheer one another on 🙂


  • October 20, 2012

    It took a friend of mine many years and a lot of writing-for-fun to get the courage to send her manuscript out, and it took dozens of publishers to find a deal. She’s now written…I don’t even know how many books, and has two separate series going. Even though I have her as a reference of possibility, I still can’t bring myself to commit to write. The best of luck to you on this, Amanda!

  • October 20, 2012

    I would LOVE to participate in NaNoWriMo!!! I have “challenged” myself to do it every year since I learned about it!

    ALSO, ummm, are we the same person?? My moment was in high school when I was told I interpreted a poem wrong. (poetry was long my creative outlet and I wasn’t half-bad for a semi-depressed teenager) I felt like I didn’t fit into their box and I stopped writing for a long time!

    ALSO ALSO, me and my dad were JUST JUST talking about this yesterday! About how the real way to influence greatness is to simply encourage activity.

  • October 21, 2012

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