Dying Daily #205: Words

But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”

William Zinsser

I am rereading “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser, and I am going to apply different principles to my writing each week. This week is about stripping away unnecessary words, so these posts may end up being 4 or 5 words long.

An economy of words is something I need in my life.

I don’t like how much I talk. I don’t like how much I enjoy the sound of my own voice. I would like to learn what the minimum number of words needed to communicate are, and what the minimum amount of talking required to be a good human is.

Words feed our ego like nothing else.

They draw attention ourselves by drawing attention to our thoughts and our ideas, neither of which are actually “ours”. I am not sure how to not do this in a world filled with chatter.

I am also aware that these things are being said on a blog I write every day, and on the day after putting out my second podcast which is just me talking. There’s no escape.

I try to be mindful of what needs to be said.

I try to be mindful of unnecessary words that are more complicated than they need to be (like trading “extraneous” for “unnecessary” in this sentence). This doesn’t always work. I like talking with people and sharing ideas. I do wonder if I sometimes dominate the conversation though, and this always leaving me feeling unhappy with myself.

But this all has to be balanced with not being standoffish or rude to other people. I live in a part of the country where not talking a lot is against the culture. If you don’t over-share you are rude, if you don’t volunteer an opinion you are not participating. It’s a difficult balance.

I am learning words are not always necessary, and that they are often unhelpful.

When I am not around people I prefer silence over noise, and the sounds of life around me over anything orchestrated by people. This means just doing what I am doing rather than narrating it, which can be odd.

How many words are too many?

How much talking is enough?

Who would you be without the words in your head?