Group Writing Projects

Connecting Words: group writing project

Here’s your invitation. It’s to the first group writing project at Confident Writing.

It’s a special kind of project. Special because it’s new to me and I’m curious and excited as to where it’ll take us. Special because there isn’t too much writing involved. (I realise you might find this a little odd coming from a writing coach.) Special because I’m running it together with a great blogging friend of mine. Special because it’s all about conversations and connections - not least as that’s where the idea came from in the first place.

Read on to find out more…


We love words.

We love the nuances and possibilities of words, their hidden, multiple layers of meaning. We like playing with them, writing them, learning about them, exploring them, seeing where they take us.

Words are the connecting blocks of conversation. (Can you imagine a conversation without words?)

And words can be the start of a conversation too – if you come across a word you don’t know and ask someone about it, in a spirit of openness, curiosity and respect.

I first got to know Brad Shorr by taking his word nerd tests. He humoured me when I tried to get top score. We got to know each other better when he came back to my site and asked me about some of the odd words I was using. Like when I said something was footery – or described him as a dab hand at writing for cartoons (it was a compliment, honestly!)

And this got us thinking about the words we see and read in other people’s blogs. Words that are new to us, that surprise us, that we’ve never heard before. Slang words, idiom, dialect.

Sometimes we let them by. Sometimes we look them up. And sometimes we go back and ask the author what they mean – because we’re curious, and want to learn. And because it can be a great way to start a conversation.

We nearly always learn from the answer – from a word that shows us new ideas or possibilities. Casts light on an old situation. Opens up a window into the world of someone that we’re talking to – close by, or on the other side of the world. Helps us to understand things better. To get a bigger, richer, funnier – quirkier – picture of the world that we live in.

And then we thought – if words can help us to make all those connections, maybe they do for you too?

So there it began, the first joint writing project from two bloggers who love to write… but this time are asking for nothing more than your connecting words.

That’s it!

Couldn’t be simpler.

All you need to do is share with us (and the rest of the blogosphere)

1. A word or words that you’ve learned, read, noticed, been gifted

2. What it means to you

3. Who you got it from

4. Any conversations or connections that followed

Keep it simple (and clean!) and – with those two short words that have allowed a thousand blogging friendships to form and blossom – be nice.

Once you’re done… tag your post ‘connecting words’, link both to the people you got the words from and back to this post, and invite other people to join in if they want. (We’re not keen on tags over here but we like invitations.)

Get your entries in by midnight on Friday 30th November (your time) and in return we’ll do a round up of the words by mid December – plus a summary of the learning, conversations and connections that have followed. (Quite what shape this will take will kind of depend on how the project unfolds…)

In return you’ll get:

  • A link back to your entry (from here, and from Word Sell Inc)
  • Your name going into the hat – for a chance to win your choice of Brad’s favourite (in print) business books
  • The chance to start up new conversations with writers, readers and bloggers all over the world

We know which one we think is the biggest prize.

We’ve tried to keep the project simple, fun and easy for everyone to take part. Please let me know (in the comment box) if there’s anything that it would be useful to clarify - I know that sometimes what seems obvious to the organisers isn’t so clear to the participants…

Best wishes with the project - I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

Joanna Paterson

Journal and writing coach, teaching ways to notice and capture the wonder of the everyday, through writing, poetry, and photography.

Website - Twitter - Facebook - More Posts

You might also like:

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  2. Ten words to tell it: my best confident writing tip
  3. When the words won’t come

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36 Responses to “Connecting Words: group writing project”

  1. On November 15, 2007 at 6:03 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, I’m actually starting to use “dab hand” in my conversation. It’s a good way to get people talking at a (Chicago area) cocktail party. Thought it would be fun to share this old post about words from my humor blog.

    Rocky isn’t a blogger, but his list started an interesting blog conversation.

  2. On November 15, 2007 at 6:56 pm J. Erik Potter responded with... #

    Great exercise, Joanna. I’ve got a post up now. I’ve only been blogging a short while but I could have probably come up with at least 4-5 other words to cover.

  3. On November 15, 2007 at 9:50 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hmm, that Rocky list is good Brad. I wonder what ours will end up looking like?

    What kind of reactions do you get to the ‘dab hand’ comment?!


  4. On November 15, 2007 at 9:52 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Erik, thanks for jumping in so quickly. Your reference to “trekker” has got me off on a whole new line of enquiry though…


  5. On November 15, 2007 at 10:37 pm Brad Shorr responded with... #

    People say, what does “dab hand” mean? It sometimes leads to a discussion of blogs and how we get to know each other. Non-bloggers usually enjoy hearing about that.

  6. On November 16, 2007 at 11:37 pm --Deb responded with... #

    I’ve always been fond of the “dab hand” phrase (I thought everyone knew that!), but then, D.A.B. are my initials, so I suppose there’s an extra little connection there. That, and my parents quoting the “a little dab will do’ya” jingle at me when I was little and helping out with stuff. (Parents. What can you do?)

    Okay, I’m off to try to think of interesting words that I’ve gotten from others, now… Kinnearing keeps coming to mind, but I’ll try to block it out…

  7. On November 17, 2007 at 2:26 am --Deb responded with... #

    Okay, mine is up!

  8. On November 18, 2007 at 11:34 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Deb

    I love the fact that your initials are DAB - there’s no end to where these connections will take us…

    Thanks for your contribution and for throwing in so many amazing words, and stories. (And I’m glad you included kinnearing + explanation even though it wasn’t your word!)


  9. On November 18, 2007 at 3:25 pm --Deb responded with... #

    Well, it would have been mean to throw out “Kinnearing” without letting you know what it MEANT!

  10. On November 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Absolutely! And thanks for sharing so many words. I’m going to keep thinking of that knitting analogy for the final round-up…


  11. On November 22, 2007 at 9:15 am Rhinoa responded with... #

    I put mine up at Rhinoa’s Ramblings in reponse to this being the Booking Through Thursday question this week. It was fun racking my brains for new words I have been sharing in the blogging world so thanks for that!

  12. On November 22, 2007 at 9:27 am gautami responded with... #

    At first glance, I almost gave up. However, thinking hard, I did remember a few that I use.

  13. On November 22, 2007 at 11:25 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Rhinoa, thanks for sharing some of your words and challenging us to use more British slang!

    Best wishes


  14. On November 22, 2007 at 11:26 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Gautami, sorry the meme was a bit hard, I’m not sure I explained it too well. I’ll try and take my own medicine and be clearer next time!

    Thanks for taking part anyway, for sharing such an interesting set of words and taking the time to make the connection


  15. On November 22, 2007 at 1:04 pm Chris responded with... #

    Here’s my BTT post and contribution to your project:

  16. On November 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm gautami responded with... #

    No, the meme was not hard. But the title “connecting words” is misleading!

    Maybe that made it hard initially.

  17. On November 22, 2007 at 6:08 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Chris, thanks for contributing to the project and throwing in so many interesting words :-)

    Gautami - sorry for misleading you with the title, I’ll learn the lessons and be clearer next time round…


  18. On November 22, 2007 at 7:16 pm Christine responded with... #

    My entry is “piffle” from the Sayers’ Peter Wimsey books. Great expletive.

  19. On November 22, 2007 at 7:26 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Christine, thanks for sharing your word - it’s a good one!

    I’m looking forward to the weird and wonderful tapestry we end up creating out of all these words we’re gathering…


  20. On November 23, 2007 at 12:24 am raidergirl3 responded with... #

    I’m not sure this is what you were talking about, but I think I got it by the end, but then didn’t have much to contibute. I was from Booking Through Thursday. Here’s my link:

  21. On November 23, 2007 at 9:47 am gautami responded with... #

    This time I wrote out explanations for the phrases I use. I updated my post, that is!

    Please do check it out whenever you have time!

  22. On November 23, 2007 at 10:08 am EnnaVic responded with... #

    I also got here via BTT.

    Great idea - dab hand is one I have used all my life (and my parents) - in fact not all that uncommon here in NZ. I suspect more people would understand it than not, at least in my circles.

    I’m still playing around with my post but it should appear in about an hour here:

    I’m not quite sure it is what you were looking for but what the heck - I had fun thinking abut it!

  23. On November 23, 2007 at 11:45 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @EnnaVic, I’m glad you found the project fun - that’ll do for me! I enjoyed your post though, especially the Scottish connection. Conversations like this are a wee way to make the world a little smaller, don’t you think? :-)

    @gautami - thanks for taking the time to expand on your words and phrases, there are some real gems there


  24. On November 23, 2007 at 12:33 pm Mervi responded with... #

    Hi Joanna!

    You left a comment on my blog about the BTT. I live in Finland and rarely speak in English. But I’m also a translator so sometimes I do talk about how to translate specific words, mostly in terms of tone and the author’s intent. I’ve talked far more about characters’ names or titles than about individual words.

  25. On November 23, 2007 at 3:31 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Mervi, indeed I did, and thanks for joining in the project.

    Tone and intent… wow, lots hidden within those two short words - a story for another day maybe :-)


  26. On November 23, 2007 at 4:20 pm fajrdrako responded with... #

    My comments are here:

  27. On November 23, 2007 at 4:37 pm Lisa responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, thank you for stopping by my blog. I saw the entry at Booking Through Thursday and decided I was up for a challenge. I intentionally didn’t read your post about connecting words before writing mine, for fear it might influence what I wrote.

    I’ve since thought of another connecting word for me.. A friend and I were in a bookstore years ago and he described his dad as a “ferocious reader”. I was pretty sure he meant “voracious” but I made claws out of my hands and roared at him and said “I’m a ferocious reader too”. We laughed until we were near tears and it has been a running joke with us for the last 20 years.

  28. On November 23, 2007 at 5:32 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi fajrdrako, thanks for your contribution. Carpe diem is a great philosophy to live by :-)

    Lisa - that’s brilliant. You know when I hear the words voracious reader now I’ll always think about this conversation!


  29. On November 26, 2007 at 1:40 am Lisa responded with... #

    Joanna.. does that mean.. we’ve made a connection (gasp!)?? LOL

  30. On November 26, 2007 at 2:32 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Lisa, yes - a ferocious one :-)


  31. On November 30, 2007 at 4:57 pm Yvonne Russell responded with... #

    Hi Joanna
    Sorry I didn’t have a chance to contribute to your great project.

    All I can do for the moment is offer a link to an article I wrote quite a while ago for another site.

    The article is called The Word Collector -

    I look forward to your final roundup.

  32. On November 30, 2007 at 8:16 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Yvonne, thanks for sharing the link to that piece - it’s fabulous, and totally in keeping with the mood of our project (I recognise some of the contributed words too!)

    I had a feeling we were kindred spirits you know…


  33. On December 23, 2007 at 10:44 pm --Deb responded with... #

    Hey, I thought this was pretty cool. “Kinnear” IS a “real” word now . . . it made the NYTimes list of Buzzwords of 2007. “To take a candid photograph surreptitiously, especially by holding the camera low and out of the line of sight. Coined in August by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of the Yarn Harlot blog when she attempted to take a photograph during an encounter with the actor Greg Kinnear at an airport.” How nifty is that?


  34. On December 24, 2007 at 8:36 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Deb, that is so cool.

    Creating a new word that’s listed in the NY Times - something for us all to aspire to in 2008 :-)


  35. On January 2, 2008 at 6:32 pm Barbara responded with... #

    I know this is very late. But here is what I wrote. Not so much about words, but it has to do with what you are talking about.
    P.S. Please check out the memes I am hosting. They are listed on the sidebar.

  36. On January 3, 2008 at 9:28 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Hi Barbara, thanks for sharing those reflections with us.


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