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The Overworked Words: A Signal to Be Bold in Your Writing

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. (Acts 4:13, NLT

A Word For Writers

My writer’s eye goes on alert when I spot overworked words in my content and writing. 

Overused words: an online #devotional for writers with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #ChristianWriting #editing #ContentWriting

By “overworked,” I mean words that are tired and ambiguous, like good, bad, nice, really, very. 

“The writer who has a definite meaning to express will not take refuge in such vagueness,” said author and English professor William Strunk, Jr. (1869-1946) in his classic The Elements of Style.

I “take refuge” in overworked words to avoid writing with depth (laziness) … to dodge overwhelm (hurry) … or to sidestep self-revelation (fear). Overworked words are an easy escape when I feel inadequate to write what others will read. 

Peter and John had a perfect excuse to avoid speaking out with clarity: they were ordinary, uneducated fishermen. Yet after Jesus’s resurrection, they taught daily in the temple with a transparency that led to their arrest. The religious leaders “were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John” (Acts 4:13, NLT).

Overworked words signal much more than weak content and writing. They point to the false shelter I use to escape my fears. 

When I see words like good, bad, nice, really, very, I see them for what they are: a signal that it’s time to be bold.

A Wise Word

Overworked words are a signal to be bold.

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

I confess laziness, hurry, and fear when I write. It’s easier to use weak language than to declare the truth. Forgive me and embolden me to share what you’ve put on my heart.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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