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The Simple Power Of Words: Guest Post By Debbie Yost

Smile. That’s all the note said. I was having a bad morning. In fact, it was one of the worst I had had in years. My husband had come to my rescue and brought me the things I asked for to get things back on track. I almost missed the note. I thought it was just a piece of paper that had been accidentally left in the bag.

The power of that simple note revived me. It gave me the courage to go back out there and enjoy the rest of my day and forget about the unfortunate beginning.

When you think of powerful writing, you usually think of Hemingway or Emily Dickinson or any of those long ago authors and poets.

However, writing does not have to be thought provoking to be powerful. Personally, I don’t like poetry and although I had to read Hemingway in school, I did not care for him. Poetry does not make any sense to me. I don’t understand all the symbolism.

Writing is much more than symbolism and drama. It is joy and laughter and fantasy and escapism. I love to sit down with a good book by Nora Roberts. I love to escape into her world of romance and remember those early days of my own relationship with my husband. A good fantasy like the Harry Potter series allows me to travel through time or to another world and helps stimulate my imagination.

For me, these books and authors are no less powerful than Hemingway or Dickinson. My days are filled with enough drama and mystery trying to raise three children in a world that continues to scare me. I am grateful to have such powerful writing to give me a break from life and a chance to recharge.

Sometimes I feel a sense of snobbery among certain writers; a feeling that unless you can quote Shakespeare or write poetry you are not a true writer. I probably do not fall into their criteria, but I refuse to comply or give up.

All writing can be powerful.

Not all people appreciate all forms of writing, but when they connect with an author or style, the power is always there.


Debbie Yost

Debbie Yost

Guest author Debbie Yost is a work at home mom who has run a small in-home day care for the last five years. She and her husband have three daughters ages 11, 5 and 3. Deb’s youngest daughter has Down syndrome. Because of her daughter, Deb has become an advocate for people with Down syndrome to ensure they have the same opportunities to live a full and rewarding life as others. Deb writes from home whenever she finds time between bottles, diapers, naps and other parental duties.

You can follow Deb’s blog, and watch her progress as she leaps into the writing world, at Three Weddings. She’s currently competing for a TopMomma hotspot - you can help keep her there by clicking on this referral link - thanks!

Debbie’s first post here was on Pursuing A Dream. Thanks for coming back Debbie and sharing these thoughts on the simple power of words. I’m sure they will resonate with many readers.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

Joanna Paterson is a writer, photograph and journal coach who provides resources to help people tap into the rich seam of their natural creativity and express themselves with confidence. You can find more of her work at Nature’s Fire.

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19 Responses to “The Simple Power Of Words: Guest Post By Debbie Yost”

  1. On April 25, 2008 at 9:49 pm amypalko responded with... #

    It’s truly amazing how much power can be packed into such a small 5 letter word, isn’t it? I think it goes back to what Joanna said recently about intention. When our words are delivered with positive intention they gain a weight and an importance that they might not have otherwise had.
    A beautifully written post, Debbie.

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  2. On April 25, 2008 at 10:22 pm Debbie Yost responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,
    Thank you again for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog. I am honored.

    Hi Amy,
    I couldn’t agree more! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

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  3. On April 25, 2008 at 10:36 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Debbie, well I’m grateful to you for writing it. I’m sure it will strike a chord with many people. Sorry it’s a bit late in the day - slight technical hitch! - but it’ll have pride of place over the weekend.

    Amy, you won’t find me arguing with that. Intention gives power. Often we use too many words and they detract from the force of the plain simple words and their intent. I too think Debbie has captured that beautifully here.

    Joanna

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  4. On April 26, 2008 at 12:27 am Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    Debbie, you’re absolutely right about connecting with a particular style of writing. And I know what you mean about that poetry “stuff”, too. Never was too good at figuring out what folks like Shakespeare meant.

    When I started writing, I tried to “be” somebody, and it ended up falling flat. But when I finally let loose and just wrote like I meant it, well, it finally started making sense.

    You have to be true to yourself when you write. When you get right down to it, that’s the only power you need. The rest is just, as they say, gravy. :-)

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  5. On April 26, 2008 at 3:28 am Lillie Ammann responded with... #

    Debbie,
    You’ve described the power of simple words beautifully and powerfully.

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  6. On April 26, 2008 at 7:34 am Catherine Morley responded with... #

    “Smile … The power of that simple note revived me”

    Just reading that made me smile.

    I guess in a way I live my life around one and two-liners. When needed, they blossom to three or four.

    But (thinking about it), the powerful ones generally come in ones or twos.

    What I do is save short lines with a personal meaning, then I write my story around them.

    “You have to be true to yourself when you write. When you get right down to it, that’s the only power you need.”

    I keep wondering how long it takes to get to that point. Where I can write an opinion, knowing that in a years time I won’t write the opposite opinion?

    I guess that’s part (of many parts) of my hesitation to write strong opinions online.

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  7. On April 26, 2008 at 10:12 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Robert, I think you’re right. Interesting how we’re getting back to the authenticity theme - makes me think back to the first guest post you wrote here (find out who you are, then write that way)

    Lillie, didn’t she just? I’m so grateful to Debbie and the other wonderful guest writers this month - it’s given me much needed breathing space as well as adding different voices and opinions to the blog.

    Cat - that’s a very interesting point. Going to have to think about it some more. You’re writing (the professional stuff anyway) in a contested environment where opinions are strongly held and sometimes can rage. I don’t - I write things that are pretty non-controversial so it’s easy for me to say my piece and be done with it.

    I wonder if there might be a trick to step back one from opinions (which can change) to some more fundamental principles and values - based on your experience, world view, core values - things that you have more confidence won’t change, and would also come with the weight of your authority (your experience, world view, core values). That doesn’t mean you’re saying you’re right, or that others are wrong (things are rarely so black and white) just that this is the way you see it.

    Any of that make sense?

    Meantime, I’ll keep thinking.

    Joanna

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  8. On April 26, 2008 at 5:13 pm Catherine Morley responded with... #

    “I wonder if there might be a trick to step back one from opinions (which can change) to some more fundamental principles and values - based on your experience, world view, core values - things that you have more confidence won’t change, and would also come with the weight of your authority (your experience, world view, core values).”

    Hmmm, I wish there was a trick. In the case on my mind, it’s all wrapped up in known principles and values.

    The problems come in with the shades of grey.

    I’m not the only one having difficulties. Since the beginning, I’ve watched the top minds shift slightly as issues evolve.

    The Internet has brought good and bad to many industries. We can either let it flow naturally, or question the value of that direction.

    The constant change forces us to evaluate as we go along (hopefully keeping the big picture in mind - a big picture that shimmers in shades of grey :-)

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  9. On April 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm Damien responded with... #

    Great, refreshing post. The academic analysis is for a few twisted individuals only! Nonetheless, Hemingway was dong exactly what you are talking about … writing to the universal passions. Whether we “get” him or not, he’s had an amazing audience for many years.

    Thanks for your post, I assume you read mine as this almost seemed to be a rebuttal. Funny thing is, the way I see it, they could be separate chapters of the same book :)

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  10. On April 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Cat, I think this is a good way of looking at it:

    “The constant change forces us to evaluate as we go along (hopefully keeping the big picture in mind - a big picture that shimmers in shades of grey :-)

    Not sure it helps with immediate challenges and questions - but it sounds like a good overall approach to me.

    Damien, I see this as another chapter of the same book too. We get sources of inspiration all over but at the end of the day is our words, our way, our voice that we need to find (which is of course how you concluded too)

    Joanna

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  11. On April 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm Lis Garrett responded with... #

    Great job! And I agree with Robert in that you simply cannot pretend to be someone you’re not. Although not everyone will appreciate your style, your most loyal readers will follow your work because it embodies who you are as a person.

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  12. On April 26, 2008 at 8:32 pm Debbie Yost responded with... #

    Hi Robert,
    I agree. I know everytime I try to write to suit someone else it seems to fail. Unless I write from my heart, I don’t enjoy it and then, it’s just work. I don’t want my writing to be work, but a labor of love.

    Hi Lillie,
    Thank you.

    Hi Cat,
    Personally, I’m not sure that somewhere down the road I won’t have a different position. I have often looked back on my life and seen that I don’t believe the same things that I did then. Sometimes I’m ashamed of what I thought, but other times, life and experience have just given me a different perspective. I think we use what we learn and accept when we have been wrong, but we shouldn’t wait. Life is too short.

    Hi Damien,
    When I read your post, I laughed. I had already submitted mine to Joanna, so I didn’t exactly write it as a rebuttal even though it seems to be. It just goes to show there are so very many styles of powerful writing and no one can relate to them all!

    Hi Lis,
    I couldn’t have said it better. Just as we don’t always like everyone we meet in the world and may not be friends with everyone, we will not always appreciate every style of writing. It doesn’t mean there isn’t value in it.

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  13. On April 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Hi Debbie, I loved viewing this from another perspective. I like Shakespeare, poetry and Hemingway but also love laughing out loud with Janet Evanovich. I think it’s silly that we make so many distinctions in the writing world. Janet Evanovich’s stories make me laugh and can lift me from the cares of life. In my mind that is power and no less valuable than a poem that stirs my soul. Thank you for reminding us that power is truly in the eyes of the reader.

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  14. On April 27, 2008 at 4:21 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Lis, it’s an important point isn’t it? One of the benefits of blogging - we chose to read those we value and enjoy, we don’t have to follow because of ‘shoulds’ or what others tell us to do. This gives power I think to both writer (to be themselves) and reader (to read what works for them)

    Debbie, wonderful responses :-) I particularly liked this line:

    “I think we use what we learn and accept when we have been wrong, but we shouldn’t wait.”

    That’s a good way to take responsibility for what we write - including responsibility for the consequences of not writing or speaking up

    Karen, I think you have a very open mind (and heart) and that’s what allows you to see beauty and meaning in many places :-) Lessons for all of us there.

    Joanna

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  15. On April 27, 2008 at 5:45 pm Debbie Yost responded with... #

    Hi Karen,
    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I actually like Shakespeare. I don’t usually read him, but I enjoy watching many of his plays. It is good to keep our minds open to other forms of writing. I should do a little more of that myself. I just get lazy at times!

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  16. On April 28, 2008 at 12:30 am DebMc responded with... #

    Great post! We value the well placed simple note around here, too. Just knowing someone cared enough about you to take a moment to jot a message is an encouragement all be itself.

    What I think is interesting about the so-called ‘great’ writers like Shakespeare is that he was the Stephen King/John Grisham/Nora Roberts/Steven Spielberg of his day. His plays were all about pleasing royalty AND the common peasant. (Give Stephen King a few hundred years…..) Dickens was a first class soap opera in writing…people waited along the docks for the printer to finish a press run of his current chapter. Don’t we wish we had a following like that?

    As a writer, I admire Shakespeare’s skill. He told a fine story with complex plots and characters…and did much of it in rhyme and rhythm. There are days when I can barely write my own name, much less a story in rhyme. As a writer, I can also see times when he must have been under a tremendous pressure to create…and fumbled the ball. For example, we are not fans of ‘As You Like It.’ Too many characters coming and going. My editing fingers want to snip and strike.

    Great post and discussion.

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  17. On April 28, 2008 at 4:00 am Damien Riley responded with... #

    @Debbie: Shwoo! Glad to hear that ;)

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  18. On April 28, 2008 at 8:51 am Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    DebMc - fascinating points there about the great writers working at all different levels with mass appeal when first written. It’s probably only since they’ve been turned into ‘literature’ that we find ourselves resisting what we’re being told we ought to appreciate…

    Wondering if Dickens and Shakespeare would have been bloggers? Think the answer has to be yes!

    Joanna

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  19. On April 28, 2008 at 3:45 pm Debbie Yost responded with... #

    Hi DebMc,
    I can only agree with Joanna’s response. Thank you for pointing out how differently artists are viewed in their own era.

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