Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Language Obsessed

Okay, I think I have to confess something. When you're an addict, supposedly admitting you have a problem is the beginning of recovery, right? I'm coming clean, but I hope that I never "clean up," so to speak.

I'm obsessed with language. Even when I'm not working, my brain is still in work mode, constantly picking apart words around me, rearranging them, correcting grammar, condensing messages. Newspaper headlines, e-mails, packaging labels, each imperfect phrase is a word puzzle waiting for me to solve. Part of this obsession is due to a daily project that involves distilling news stories down to fewer than 200 characters. It has streamlined my writing by forcing me to increase my vocabulary, a pre-requisite for saying anything of substance in such a small space.

But what has really made my addiction worse is Twitter. Express full messages in 140 characters or less? Half the reason I like Twitter is because it's a personal challenge to convey the most information and tone with the least characters. It's truly a feat because I am generally wordy at minimum and "Are you seriously still talking?" at maximum.

Twitter's #haiku tag is also responsible for recent bouts of poetic expression. A scroll through my blog will tell you that Haiku News is a regular feature at True to Words. Crafting 140 character phrases is okay, but it isn't too challenging because unlike science or math, there aren't any hard-and-fast rules. But Japanese Haiku requires one to convey ideas in exactly seven syllables. Now everyday I get lost in an endless form of word Tetris, where fitting the correct phrase in the right place determines if I win or lose the game. A game that I find myself playing more and more each day.

So like I said, I'm addicted, but I'm not trying to sober up. Immersed in a world of wordplay as a freelance writer is heaven for me. What I really want to know is if anyone reading this finds themselves playing with language, too? If so, do you have rules for your "games" and what is your strategy for keeping your vocabulary well-stocked?


  1. Love this post! Your tweets ARE always succinctly wonderful... now I know why!

    Thank you for putting me on your blog list. I am flattered! As of right after I post this comment, you will be on mine too! ;)


  2. Thanks for the great comment :) And thanks for putting me on your blog list, too!