Writers often talk about their love for words.
“Oh, I just LOVE words. Can’t get enough of them.”
But why do you LOVE words?
Words are frustrating. Words are difficult. Words are a barrier. Words get in the way of truly expressing an idea, or how you feel. Words are an enemy to authentic human connection. Words lie.
If anything, you should hate words.
I mean, I don’t hate words. I actually enjoy words.
But I also find them frustrating as hell. They’re like a whiny child who won’t do what you want unless you discipline them consistently. And that can get seriously exhausting, right?
“How..Can…I…Express…This…Simple…Idea? Rrrgh! Why is this so damn difficult?”
Ever slaved over a sentence thinking that to yourself?
So, do you really love words?
I mean, okay, I love words. I really do. But I don’t always like them.
I guess that’s my point.
Similar to all the important relationships you have in life, there’s love there. But you don’t always feel great about them. No relationship isn’t riddled with difficulty almost every day.
It’s a love-hate relationship, perhaps.
But for the sake of entertainment, I want to see how much fun it would be if we staged a “word execution” as a sort of linguistic exercise.
So how about we take a word, absolutely destroy it, and see what happens?
The purpose here is to have a fun, imaginative exercise, so you’ll actually feel more inspired about using this word in the future.
Because in order to create (feel motivated, innovative, inspire), sometimes you must bleed a little first.
Love, any last words?
Okay, here goes.
Love hangs with a black bag over its head, a trapdoor beneath its feet. The wooden platform, so rickety. So ready to snap free at any moment.
The priest: Love, writers all over the world use you for just about any branding campaign imaginable. A jury of your peers found you guilty of endlessly inspiring people to buy McDonald’s without question. You are hereby sentenced to hang until dead. May God have mercy on your soul. IF YOU HAVE ONE! MUA HA HA HAAA!
The trapdoor snaps free. The rope goes taught. Murmurs of shock and melancholy ripple through the crowd. Love’s legs kick for a moment, then quickly, there’s stillness.
The coroner: You have all accepted Love without questioning the extensive lexicon of human experience behind this word, and eaten way too much McDonald’s because they’ve successfully equated their fatty products with how you feel about your deepest human relationships. Is this right? Nay, I say. NAY. Let me tell you something about Love…
Let me deconstruct the word Love.
Let me show you how Love makes you feel.
Most likely, your parents told you almost every day that they loved you. You learned growing up this was an important idea. Love meant everything was okay. That even though your parents had to discipline you for your bad behavior, at the end of the day, they loved you. And that, above all else, mattered the most. It’s not without a huge sense of value do you read or hear the word Love.
When you moved out of your childhood home, you didn’t hear “I love you” so often. But McDonald’s gave you Love everyday, through their carefully engineered marketing and advertising. You wanted back so badly the love your parents had professed to you all those years, you visited the store and purchased their food products.
Think you don’t gravitate toward the word Love? Too bad. You’re psychologically manufactured to do just that.
“I’m lovin’ it.”
Love, love, love, love, love, love. Fast food, fast food, fast food.
Some bright writer knew you had this nurtured need to feel loved, so they branded McDonald’s to make their culture and products synonymous with Love.
Brilliant, wasn’t it?
And you thought Love was just a word. No. Love is an entire wealth of experience. Love is an entire galaxy of feeling. Without Love, your experience is a black hole. Love fills that black hole and makes you feel everything is okay. Just as your parents disciplined you when you did something naughty, and afterward told you they loved you.
After you’ve done something bad or made a mistake at your job, do you ever feel like grabbing some McDonald’s? Hmmm?
Love’s death was deserved.
Okay, so, did you enjoy that? Just a little?
Look, I know I’m taking a crazy approach to talking about writing here. But it’s something I’ve got to do to feel inspired about writing again.
Plus, think about it. Really think about it: Words ARE a whole galaxy of psychology experiences, built up over the years.
So when you use a word, think about the years of experience you’re activating in your readers. Let that guide your drafting, revising and editing process.