The Serious Practice of Word Play

by Starla J. King on August 17, 2011

The email exchange this morning went something like this: 

Her:  [after an insight- and knowledge-filled paragraph] “… (I suck @ spellings)…”
Her:  ” ‘Spelling’ ”
Me: “spelling is overrated.”
Her: “Whew…”
Me: “LOL! Once again, essence is what matters. In fact, in this household we spell our grocery list items phonetically just for the delight of it. ‘Seereal.’ ‘Kreemer.’ ‘Lettis.’ ‘Sallit.’ “
Her:  “BLOG” [followed by a hilarious personal joke about grocery lists and a dissolved relationship] 

There’s a time for perfect, and there’s a time for play.

And I think we often forget that writing allows us both. 

Yes, of course spelling and the perfect arrangements of words matter in work documents and certain correspondence and marketing materials and stuff like that.  But there are so many other times that we have the chance for word play.   

Word play matters…    

(click to enlarge)


Because it’s FUN.  
Laughter.  Flashes of creative “genius.”  Like the fabulous back-and-forth volleying of a mini ping-pong game  …but without the ball. or the paddle. or the net. or the table…  Ok, scratch that metaphor. 

Because shared word play creates connection.  Collaboration, even (especially?) in play, creates fluid, energizing connection.   Relationships love laughter.

Because word play allows for authentic expression.  Imperfections welcome here — in spelling… and in YOU.

Because word play can soothe the sting of painful life stories.  All stories are made up of words, whether in our own minds, said out loud, or written on paper.  When we play with those words, we add laughter to the stories and change the mental and emotional recipe we rely on to recall the exact pain of each  memory.  (In fact, this recent study claims scientific evidence that our very DNA is programmable by language).

This is serious business, this practice of play.  Play of any sort gets right to the essence, the core, the melty chocolatey-fudge center of life… and when we use play intermingled with words, it allows us to bypass the stunting power of our made-up self stories and tap directly into the stunning possibility of our truest most capable selves.

Although right now the essence of me just wishes I had included “bleetch” in my email list to her.  That “Bleetch” spelling makes me snorfle every time.   EVERY … *splutterlaff* … freakin’ … *wiping eyes* … time!

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