Do you know the answer to this old riddle?
Q: Which weighs more: a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?
A: Neither. They both weigh the same.
Silly, I know. But I’ve been thinking a lot about weight lately. And no, this has nothing to do with the pants I no longer fit into. Since my hubby has been ill, he’s been unable to carry heavy items as easily as he did previously. So even though a bag of pine bark weighs the same as it did last year, it’s heavier for him today.
In our gravity-controlled world, anything with mass has weight—anything from feathers to bricks.
But have you stopped to consider the weight of words?
As writers, the words we publish have influence beyond what we might imagine. Consider the weight of our words related to:
Some of us are “pre”-published. That is, we may still be waiting for that first book or magazine contract. So we post on our own blog or we guest-post on other blogs. But our words are still out there, floating around the internet, influencing readers far beyond what we might imagine.
We need to remember that once something is posted in the virtual world, it never goes away. We can delete it or shut down the site, but it’s still out there. Perhaps your words were copied and pasted to someone else’s blog. Or they printed it and used it in a message or as a quote in their own writing.
Books and magazines
You’ve finally received that elusive contract. Someone is paying you to communicate your words. Your book might sell 5,000 copies, 10,000 copies, or more. Your magazine article might be included in a periodical with a circulation of several hundred thousand.
And because you have been published, your words have gained authority. Authority that others will respect and value. Authority that will be quoted and applied.
Writing for children carries an especially heavy weight. Our words influence young, impressionable lives. Parents trust us enough to purchase our publications for consumption by their own children. How many of us have been shaped by the books we read when we were a child? Can you remember specific lines from your favorite childhood books?
I’m reminded of Jesus’s admonition, “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6 NIV). Surely the words we write for children carry great weight.
Last but not least, the words we write influence ourselves. The printed words reflect our heart. Who are we in the Lord? Where are we in our journey with Him? How are we growing? How are we not growing? The answers to those questions are revealed in the material we write. Are we willing to read our own words to hear what the Lord is saying to us as well as to our readers?
Yes, words have weight. Let’s handle them with care.