When Words are Your Paintbrush

Writing inspiration

There was a time in my life when I was angry at words.

Resentful of the way they limit, label, box one up.

I was nineteen and frustrated by a raging and critical world. I was obsessed with the complexity of communication.

So many steps... first to subdue a thought enough that it could be contained by words. Then to bravely speak those words knowing that the third step, the receiving, would be met by the hearer's own filter. And her response? Equally as multi-stepped and complex.

How to contain big ideas in words? How to ensure mutual understanding of meaning?

So many places to trip and twist.

This impossibility... of truly communicating... devastated me.

Sometimes I was sure silence was the only option.


I still have a healthy fear of the unintentional harm done by careless words.

Words weigh much.

But silence is like a cork in a dam... the pressure builds to bursting. In desperate times I have burst all over, an endless stream, a river of words washing around an idea, tumbling it about, trying desperately to make it understood.

Both silence and bursting have their time. And both ways can do harm.

Neither way is perfect.


I am no longer angry with words. Words carefully chosen bring life. Indeed, I have chosen to follow the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. ~ John 1:1-4

Our words, so often carelessly spoken, are flocks of birds fluttering out of our longing mouths... doves of peace, eagles of war, tiny little sparrows of hope.

When you live in a world that was spoken into being, words bringing all that is into existence, you ought to hold words in esteem. How rarely we do.


I think in pictures. Pictures and words. The sculpting of words together... the forming, the pressing here, removing there... it is the closest I can come to sharing mind pictures.

The spoken word is so quick. The pressing pace of conversation does not allow for a slow forming and  nurturing of thought. An infant idea met with resistance in conversation dies a quick death for me.

I have always felt more genuine in my writing than in speaking, because writing allows me the pace I need to be clear. The more I speak the more shy I feel. When I write, my thoughts have become solid for the working and reworking. The clay has been made pliable, the form tweaked.


For years writing was my secret. Journals filled with my barely legible scrawl. Hours spent crafting an email. Handwritten letters to a childhood friend.

Even more hidden was the writing in my head. I felt pressure, like that corked dam. That there were stories to tell. Stories of beauty in a gray world. Stories of hope in suffering. I wrote the words in the journal of my mind, filed away forever.

But something happened two years ago. I began to recognize that the pressure was not just coming from inside of me. That it was part of how I was made, and that I had an obligation to step fully into myself and take writing more seriously.

To not do so would have been to dishonor the One who created me to write.

I am not a bold person. This was not easy to accept.

If God made me to think like a writer, if God intended me to write, wouldn't refusing to do so out of fear be an insult? Yet to expose my words to the world... why the possibilities for ridicule and humiliation would be limitless! I had to choose - was I going to live fearfully, or live out the way I had been fearfully and wonderfully made?


When I submitted my first article to a magazine I did it as a challenge to myself. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and hit "send" just before the deadline. As soon as I did it, I realized that my biggest fear was that it would be accepted.

I reassured myself that it would not be accepted and that I would not have to worry. Writers expect rejection, especially at the beginning.

Five months later I received an acceptance letter. I cried for half an hour. All mixed up, happy and scared.

When my name finally stared back at me from the glossy pages in my hands, I whispered, "I guess it's true. I really am a writer."


Of course, I'd been one all along. Having an article published does not a writer make.

A writer is word warrior, word painter, word singer.  She weaves words like ribbons around an idea and makes it real. A writer starts writing long before pen hits paper or fingers hit keys. She paints a world with words.

Her mind is ever hungering for words to try to fleetingly capture truth and beauty... hope. She is pressing thoughts into forever as she wields pen like sword or brush, reaching out into the wide world to sometimes bleed, sometimes sing.

A piece of herself is wrapped in everything she writes.

I am a writer.

joining the WriteItGirl community this week


  1. indeed you are! Made by Him and for His glory; write on!

  2. I LOVE this, Patti! There are so many beautiful images here. I especially like, "A writer is word warrior, word painter, word singer. She weaves words like ribbons around an idea and makes it real." You are a gifted writer!

  3. love your testimony here Patti! And this "Words carefully chosen bring life." I have been thinking a lot about this.

    Thank you for encouraging me with YOURS, today!

  4. Hi Patti, what an insightful post about the impact of words...the power they have for the positive and the negative. You are a beautiful writer. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on the "Do What You Can Plan"! It's comforting to know that there are so many of us mommas with the same big passions for our writing AND our children, and how we must continue seeking God to find the proper balance if he has called us to both.

    Nice to "meet" you!

  5. Lovely post.

    That idea of not doing what He designed us to do being sort of an insult, that is some food for thought... What are we saying when we refuse to operate in the areas He designed us to operate in? No thanks? I think You made a mistake? I don't like the way You created me? Ungrateful. Unappreciative. Ouch.

    How much more freedom would we feel if we would simply trust Him, and thank Him, and beg His guidance and help in operating in the arenas that He has placed us in, in exercising the talents He has blessed us with, that He meant for us to use to bring Him glory and to bless others? Yep, good food for thought!


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