Friday, March 2, 2012

Writing by the Numbers
When you paint by the numbers, the manufacturer provides all the paint, an outline for the painting and brushes. In childhood, a gingerbread man like the one at right could delight us even if we painted outside the lines.

In writing, the same cannot be said for its childish pleasures. Unfortunately, for many of us, learning our native language is tedious. The learning curve involves scrolling line after line of the alphabet with a death grip around a large crayon or pencil.

Then we are tasked with taking spelling tests that, once again, do not tie pleasure to knowledge. In these cases, it either matters that we get a 100 on the test, or we could not care less and steadily move away from the language as a whole.

As adults, we need to take back the power and majesty of the words, phrases and sentences that were drilled out of us. Playing with words can help. Or maybe replacing some of the numbers in these paint-by-number schemes with the words that speak colors, shapes or emotions can help us regain some of wonder that comes from writing outside the lines.

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