Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Should We Settle for Small Words?

When you think of the word 'smart,' what do you think about? 

Do you think of intelligence? "That guy is really smart!" 

Or do you think of pain? "My knee really smarts!" 

The word 'smart' can mean many different things. It's a very universal and flexible term. To smart can mean to be a source of sharp or superficial pain, such as a wound. Though, the word smart as I intend to use it means to have or show quick intelligence or ready mental capability. 

The list of synonyms that go along with the word 'smart' is endless; acute, alert, brainy, bright, brilliant, canny, clever, genius, keen, knowing, nimble, and many more. 

Though, all these words, do they all mean to have quick intelligence? 

My brother and I will often argue about words. He is a couple of years younger than I, therefore he has not experienced as much of the world. He is incredibly bright, but can be naive at times. 

I used the word 'exponential' and he wasn't sure what it meant. I told him it meant 'rapidly increasing' and he quirks his eyebrow up at me. "Why wouldn't you just say 'rapidly increasing'?" 

I looked at him and I paused for a moment. Why didn't I just use the phrase 'rapidly increasing'? I had to think about it before I answered him but finally I resolved that it was because the word 'exponentially' sounded better and less wordy and it also was more powerful. 'Rapidly increasing' gets the message across, but the power behind 'exponentially' is far greater. 

'Exponentially' brings back mathematical terms. An exponent, which we said as 'to the power', multiplies by multiples. There can multiple exponents, and as you multiply, the number you are multiply grows rapidly. If you think of the number 10 to the exponent or power of 10, that's ten multiplied by ten, ten times. And if you take the shortcut, you just add ten zeros to the original number. 

Now that is much more powerful than simply 'rapidly increasing.' 

Another question crossed my mind when he asked me this; why should we settle for 'rapidly increasing' when there are words like 'exponentially'? 

If we revert back to the word 'smart' and its many synonyms, 'smart' is the equivalent to 'rapidly increasing'. Why should we settle for 'smart' when we can use words such as 'brilliant'? 'Brilliant is a far more powerful way to express someone being smart. Brilliant means to have or show great intelligence, talent or quality. 

Brilliant has it's own place, but it is probably better suited elsewhere, rather than explaining someone's intelligence. 'Shining brightly, sparkling, glittering, lustrous.' This is how brilliant should be primarily used; not to describe someone's intelligence. This particular word should be used to describe a ring or a piece of jewelry. 

Now, someone who is smart and someone who is say clever are two different people. 


Someone who is smart simply has quick intelligence. 

Someone who is clever? Someone who is clever shows inventiveness or originality. They're also ingenious. Now that is a lot more powerful and descriptive than smart! 

Far too often, we are willing to settle for the smaller, less powerful words. We are willing to settle for less rather than reach for more. Why would there be all of these others words if we weren't meant to use them? There cannot simply be one word for everything. There simply cannot. We cannot use smart to describe everyone who has an ounce of intelligence. There are varying levels of intelligence. We cannot use one word to describe emotions. 

There is an exponential amount of known words, and the numbers grow everyday. I learn new words everyday. You learn new words everyday, too, even if you don't realize it. There are new words being made everyday. We cannot possibly keep up. There is no way for a single person to know every word, but we can at least strive for more. 

As always, thank you very much for reading. I feel that my more personal postings have freed my mind and made me more focused. I have found my center and purpose for this blog again and I hope you enjoyed this posting. 

Happy blogging. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What is Blogging?

When you think of a blog, how would you define it? How would you define your blog?  

When I think of blogging, I find myself conflicted and often intimidated by the freeness of it. 

I am writing this entry, after several weeks of absence. I haven't found the time to write lately, and in part, this entry will explain why. 

While I have been extremely busy with my business these past few weeks, I have also been avoiding writing. Every time I move to touch my keyboard, I am conflicted and, quite honestly, frightened. I am intimidated by the keyboard and what it holds the key to. The keyboard holds the key to a world of creation and complex thought. It is the passage which the words of a writer takes. 

'Intimidate' means 'to make timid or fill with fear,' 'timid' meaning to be 'lacking in self-assurance.' I am not very self-assured when it comes to writing. A lot of times, I feel like anyone can write. There's a whole host of people who write; what makes me any different? This is where I back down and run away from my keyboard, busying myself with other things that don't involve writing or making a post to my blog. 

I read a blog posting by a friend of mine, named Jeff Goins. I met him through Twitter right around the time I started writing my blog and I found his postings very interesting and inspiring! There was a particular blog posting that really related to how I feel most of the time when I write; "A Writer's Biggest Struggle." (I'll insert a link at the bottom of this posting.) The posting began with this one sentence, and it struck me hard; 

"It's one little thought that threatens to destroy their (writer's) message before it ever leaves their fingertips; what I say doesn't matter." 

This is the battle that I constantly fight, as I know many other writers fight. 

This blog also intimidates me. The freeness and limitless bounds of blogging daunts me. I mentioned in an earlier posting about how free writing intimidates me. There is too much room and not enough structure, and I tend to back down from such writing. This blog is a huge step for me and 'freeing' my writing. It takes a great deal of mental power for me to write, freely and unconstructed. 

By definition, a blog is a website containing a writer's own experiences, observations or opinions. 'Observation' means 'an act or instance that is perceived. An opinion can make for a hot or touchy topic, but it means 'a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.' 

This definition made me think, a lot. My thoughts on this happened so fast, almost like popcorn going off in my head. Writing about the definition of the true meaning of words is a lot like expressing an opinion. No one can know exactly what a word means or was meant to mean. Not everyone uses the same definition of the same word. The connotations, 'connotation' meaning 'the associated or secondary meaning of a word', that go along with other words are a lot like opinions. Our belief of the meaning of a word does not have sufficient grounds and is not completely certain when perceived by others. Not everyone knows in what way we are using all words. 

This, in its entirety, intimidates me. 

Though, when I sit with my computer, or my iPad, or my iPhone, and I write out a blog posting like this one, and I share it with my followers, and I watch and see all the hits it gets, I feel free. I feel relieved. I feel rejuvenated and glad that I took the time to sit and force myself to write something, because even if no one ever thinks anything of it, at least I did it. 

I would love it if you would share your thoughts in the comments! 

If you are a fellow writer who fights the same battles, or if this strikes you in any manner, please share it with me. Share your struggle, your success, your secret to overcoming, even if momentarily, and the battle. 

Thank you for reading, and happy blogging! 

Jeff Goins -