Why the pen is mightier than the sword.

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There are a very few writers or copywriters who possess the power to truly move others to action.

Whose writing seems so natural, so effortless that it moves the reader beyond being aware of the act of reading and into a state of experiencing what they are reading.

Does it come naturally?  Does it take talent?  Does it take years of practice?  I think it’s a combination of a natural or learned understanding of psychology together with an overwhelming heart desire to communicate.

When you think about it, the world as we know it has been profoundly affected by the written word.  Think about these very obvious examples:

  1. The Bible
  2. Martin Luther’s edicts
  3. Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream…”
  4. The constitution (of whichever free country you may call home)

From pictograms then cuneiform of ancient Mesopotamia to the few characters of text messages and tweets, ideas are communicated in words. Those ideas take on a life of their own when acted upon.

The sword, on the other hand, is much more difficult to wield. It’s impact can be devastating and seemingly more powerful than the word at the time of its wielding… but its effect eventually dies.  Wars are fought, battles won, boundaries change, people die and forget.  But philosophies communicated by words change thinking, actions, nations and eventually the world as we know it.

Look at communism for instance. Initially a philosophy, then a state ‘religion’ and now, an obviously failed social ‘experiment’.  While the ‘sword’ enforced it, the ‘word’ overthrew it.

Which is why we should never underestimate the power of our words, especially our written words, to influence, persuade and motivate.

That seemingly effortless writing I spoke of at the beginning of this article comes only as a result of passion channeled through carefully chosen words that are precise, powerful and perfect to convey very specific meaning and emotion.  Master that art, that science and you have a weapon more powerful than any other ever invented by man.

If you’d like to test this for yourself here’s an exercise you can try:

Pick a subject. Preferably a controversial subject.  Now write 2 short articles about it.  Write one as if your the protagonist for the subject and the other as if you’re against it.  Put yourself in each role.  Imagine yourself feeling completely convinced of the righteousness of your stance in each case.  Argue your case.  Convince your readers that you are right and make them feel as you do.

Then, read your articles. Note how they move you.  Note how your own opinions are changed as you move from one viewpoint to the other as you seek to justify it.

I remember doing a similar exercise in high school.  The subject was a hobo being moved from their cardboard shack on a city street.  I’ll never forget the impact that exercise had on my thinking or how it opened my eyes to the power of words.

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