TT's Rules of Writing #10 (Writing Tip #81)

They’re just words.

Let me repeat that: they’re just words. That’s all. They’re not holy. They’re not part of Scripture. They’re just words.

Perhaps they mean something to you. So do those love letters you received in ninth grade. But you know--sometimes it’s good to let things go.

Maybe they took you a long time to write. Sure, I get it.

Ever hear of a thing called practice? Think that all those people who are great at something—the artists, the athletes, the people achieving something special in life—just woke up one morning and made it happen? They were probably busting their butt day after day and night after night.

They’re just words.

They are phrases constructed in such a way that makes it impossible to judge in a scientific manner. They can only be critically observed. They can only be read through subjective eyes.

Get rid of the typos and the grammatical errors and what are you left with?

That’s the question.

Is the material really, truly that brilliant?


Have you put it on a pedestal and are too stubborn to take it down?

Did you have to work so hard for no reward that you’re afraid of doing it again?

Can it be possible that a small part of you questions whether you’re able to match the brilliance and beauty of those words of yours when you sit back down to start writing again?

Do you feel you deserve to be paid for those words?

Do you feel those words are better than other writers’ words?

Look at them. Look at them on the screen or on the white sheet of paper.


If there are 100,000 of them--well, then, God bless you. You’ve run the marathon and put in the work.

Now start again.

Perhaps one day those words of yours will be compared to other words like To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby. But probably, the chances are you haven’t killed your mockingbird and your Gatsby isn’t really too great. Not yet.

So get back to work on more words.

It's impossible to type when your fists are tight and holding onto something. So just let those words go.

If they are meant to be published, so be it.

If they are meant to move another reader, so be it.

If they are meant to occupy the time and space of your soul and only your soul, so be it.

Write because you want to write. Because you love to write. Because you have to write.

And realize that regardless of what happens, at the end of the day, they are only words.

Like the face staring back at you in the mirror, those words have lines and blemishes and flaws. If that face happens to look like a young Paul Newman or a young Audrey Hepburn, then you’re lucky (and you shouldn’t be writing--you should be in film).

But chances are you’re imperfect like the rest of us, and so are your words.

The magnificent thing is that those words can be made better. They can be polished and smoothed out and rearranged and perfected.

Always remember. They’re words. They’re just words.

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