And the LikeIn Writer School, you practice writing what you want to say. And especially in Creative Writer school, any feeling you’re trying to evoke needs to come from the words you choose, so you spend a lot of time thinking about how you feel about something, trying to get to the heart of what you think and feel about it, then putting it all into words so others can share the experience with you. That said, you’re not allowed to be dismissive in this process. You’ll get failing marks if you avoid zeroing in on what you’re trying to say.

Here’s an example of such avoidance:

“It was like, and I was like, and then they like, like, you know what I mean? Like, yeah.”

That, my friends, is 19 words (count them!) of the speaker’s bobbing along on the surface without really getting at anything. The message imparted is clear: the speaker didn’t want to put the effort into digging, finding, and making a point, but is relying on the patience and sympathy of the listener to fill in the gaps.

We all struggle for words at times. I remember one of my high school reading teachers getting tired of teenagers overusing the word like, and challenged us to stand up and talk at random without using it. One girl stood up and did a good job for half a sentence until she lost her trail of thought, stammered, and tossed out a like to fill the silence. I’m not saying I could have done any better. Sitting in my chair quietly taking it all in was my modus operandi. Being asked to stand up in front of everyone and speak off the cuff was, at the time, tantamount to asking to use me as shark bait. But the lesson was clear, and it was one of those moments that I return to in my mind and examine over and over. For the girl who was challenged to stand up, it was the moment of silence that got her.

But a moment of silence to gather your thoughts is sometimes necessary, and it’s appreciated by enquiring minds. Make your point. Make any point. And allow for silence if you need, because that next word, the one that breaks the silence, can be deafening. Let it be.

The worst part about like, like, like is that you risk your very thoughts and feelings becoming background noise. Think about it: The boy who cried wolf all the time was ignored when a real wolf showed up. Make your words count.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing.

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