Is it possible to do a workout with words?
I wondered about that as I finished my stint on the treadmill and proceeded to another machine to do pull ups. Those pull ups are tough by the way. Are words any easier?
My workout is designed to help me stay in shape and deal with specific problems like my shoulders. Working out with words happens every time I write, or read, or have a conversation. Can I find the right words, or combination of words, or word sequence that conveys what I’m thinking? That can often be very difficult, especially when you don’t want to use the same word twice and your thesaurus gives you virtually no options.
You know where it’s tougher? When you’re trying to rhyme something and matching words don’t exist. But back to the point: What do you do when you know in your mind the kind of word you’re after – to convey that exact meaning – and it doesn’t show up.
You play with it. You turn a sentence around. You come up with a phrase of seven words when you’d like to have only one. That’s when you step away from this particular exercise and focus on something else.
I read what I write out loud. You should too. There’s a trap though. Half an hour ago you were happy with a particular sentence and its word combination. And now you have this niggling doubt that what you’ve written doesn’t quite do it. So you play around some more.
You try different words, another combination of words, until you are semi satisfied. That’s like going half way through a workout on a stationary bike and deciding that you should have been on an elliptical or rower instead. And it’s not perfect. And therein, Shakespeare says, lies the rub. It’s not perfect.
I confess, I like to find the right word; because the right word fits like a glove. But what if you can’t, or you’re in a rush to complete something and it has to be delivered to a professor, or an employer, or part of a competitive bid, or a government report. As long as what you’ve written conveys the meaning, the gist of what you want to get across, then maybe you leave it.
So it's not perfect. You’ve done your best, your verbal workout, and you send if off. In so many cases it is better to get what you’ve written into action, imperfect though it may be.
Then what happens? You’ve delivered your work, and you go to bed. And voila! At 5:35 am your brain delivers the perfect word sequence you were after. But that’s life!