The Written Word is a Living Thing

Last night as we sat in comfy chairs and munched on good cheese, crackers and wine, one of the many topics my girlfriends and I mulled over included the power that a beautiful painting can carry into an environment. The one who supervises a maternity ward is also an artist and she is exploring the subtle ways that she can “lift” the atmosphere of a labor room by including strategically placed significant paintings.

Bits of our conversation are coming back to me this morning…”Feelings and prayers expressed while I painted the picture have infused it so that when others see it, they are affected in some way that makes the painting alive.” …”Music also triggers a response in the hearers. It can bring back memories and with the memories come the emotional experience we had in the past associated with the song.”

I watched the faces of these women I love and applied the ponderings to my writing, to anyone’s writing. I had already been exploring the idea that the written word can be a living thing, so this conversation blended into my private mullings in a way that made me smile there in the cozy room surrounded by good friends.

The written word is infused (good word huh?) with the thoughts, mood and experience of the one doing the writing. When I sit here with a heart overflowing with gratitude to God for His love for me, that truth gets sent out, almost imparted to you, the reader. Not just empty letters that are lined up in a precise order to tell you a fact. The newspaper can do that.

Even the words of a stay-at-home writer who dresses

like this can be alive.

My words, your words, written on paper or screen have a certain weight that transcends their tiny size. When you pick up a rich book and take it in, you will not be the same person you were when you picked up the book or read the online article. We are affected by the written word more powerfully than we know.

Words put down are thoughts captured. Like a photo of a moment, the life and experience behind the words have been caught forever and can distribute the experience to others for years to come. In this way written words are alive. They are breathing and metamorphosing into a transfer of feelings, attitudes, moods and beliefs.

My mom’s Bible with a marker I cross-stitched for her while in my teens.

The Bible is a couple of leather covers with paper and ink in between. But most would agree that it is alive, that it changes the reader and that when we read it at different times in our lives we see and hear what it is saying differently. That happens because the ink on paper mixes with what is already in us, with who we are at that moment and it reads in a whole new way. Alive and moving and carrying weight and power.

But the Bible is not the only collection of words that are living. Your words and my words hold power and beauty, and can transform those who take them in. We can impart what we have learned, lived and walked through with these little tap taps on the keyboard. Writings from generations past are still awakening new thoughts and sensations in us as we read them. How can this be? It is because the words are living things. Will ours do the same for future generations? Can our words today make a difference in the current day-to-day lives of people?

I believe they can and do and will.

Even though we are all being constantly barraged with more of the written word than any other time, through the Internet and it’s unending stream of news, persuasion, how-to’s and entertainment, I believe that there are a few words in that barrage that will hit spirit to spirit and affect a life, lift a head and give someone new hope.

You and I can author those words, paint that painting or compose that music that will bring life and significant change into an atmosphere or a lone heart. Beauty is not wasted effort, it is worth the cost. Tap out those letters that create words that have life. Put paint to canvas and music into the air. They are alive, living and transformative.


On the Brilliance of Sticky Notes for a Writer


I loved the classic yellow Post-It notes when I worked in a real office that had a desk made of wood instead of this virtual desktop I now use at home as a freelance writer. In my office days, the little yellow squares of paper inched closer and closer to filling up any open space on the desktop, threatening to swallow me whole.

Now my Mac desktop is freckled with Stickies, the laptop version of Post-It notes. I use them all the time. When my husband sees this screen, he sighs with as much frustration as he did when looking at my old office desk. It looks messy and confused and terribly unorganized to him. “What is all of that?” he asks, while shaking his head in disgust or confusion. I am not sure which.

I like having things in front of me. I need reminders in front of my eyes. I promise that my little squares of information are not as haphazard as they appear. As a writer who is often filling out forms for new jobs and taking part in online writing groups, there are many questions that are repeated. It saves time to have them handy. My jumble of stickies include:

  • My contact information and a short Bio.
  • My due dates for current jobs and projects.
  • Various websites that I may want to research when I have more time.
  • Inspiring quotes and nice things that have been said about my writing.
  • New ideas for future articles or blog posts.
  • A list of past assignments that are needed for referrals and testimonials.
  • MY two website links to my blog and my own writing website, handy at the bottom of the screen. So easy to drag and drop where needed.

Stickies come in 6 colors and I keep telling myself that it would be brilliant to use the colors to organize my notes by subject. All of the job possibilities could be blue, the contact and bio could be yellow, and inspiration, green. So far I have not accomplished this plan. I think I would need an additional sticky-note to remind me which color was for which subject!

But the main reason I adore sticky-notes is the great help they are while creating short articles for websites. When I am writing an information article, I sometimes know very little about the subject and must rely on research. Once the topic is chosen, I read all I can about the subject to begin to grasp an angle for my article. Rather than try to keep track of several windows being open on my computer, and the potential of accidentally closing one, I will copy and paste the information to a sticky note. The note will expand to whatever length I need and it will also hold the link to the original website so I can always go back for more details.

I keep the info stickies for a few days until I am sure the article is finished and accepted, then delete. They can be easily shrunken or expanded as needed on the desktop. I can also go to “Window” and click to organize all the stickies by subject, color or date. They can be set to “Float” above or under current projects, and even made translucent so I can see what is underneath the little squares.

I am sure there are many more lovely uses for these small helpers and I intend to find them all. In the meantime, maybe now would be a good time to organize them by color and subject.



UPDATED: I organized the info on the stickies on a color-coded system.