WAW: Do words matter?

Writing About Writing: A once-a-week post about some aspect of writing. I’m not an expert; I’m just some guy. Take it with a grain of salt.


It’s impossible to escape what’s going on right now, but I’m going to tailor this as much to writing and words as I can.

In one of the many, many discussions I’ve had recently, someone asked if words even matter anymore. What is the point of huge comment streams on Facebook? On a more personal note, my NaNo word count has tanked. I thought I’d finish in two weeks; now I may realistically not finish at all. It’s hard to write. It’s hard to read. For many of us, it’s hard to function.

But yes, words do matter

Words still matter. And I will explain why by starting with

Words that injure

Let me tell you some words that have done real, tangible harm:

  • You are broken
  • You can’t be fixed
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • Why are you this way?
  • Why can’t you be normal?
  • It’s just a phase
  • You don’t matter
  • Your voice doesn’t matter
  • Can I just have a hug?
  • Have another drink
  • You didn’t say no
  • You wanted it
  • No one will believe you

Now, let’s try some words that heal

  • I care about you
  • I care what happens to you
  • I will stand with you
  • I will fight alongside you
  • You are welcome here
  • Your life matters
  • You are not alone
  • You are not a freak
  • I believe you
  • I believe you
  • I believe you

Keep speaking

Right now, many of us are scared. And rightfully so. But we are fortunate in that we have the words of those who have already fought this battle. Those words were important when they were first said and written and they are important again.

Those who came before us left us a god damn handbook for how to win this. All we have to do is listen.

Don’t be silent. Don’t forget that words matter. Don’t lose faith in the power of speech.

Resources (words that matter):

THIS IS NOT EVEN CLOSE TO AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST. This is just a couple starting places.

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