Wordplay as Swordplay: The Communicator’s Artful Sport


As writer-Communicators, we engage in wordsmanship. This week while playing some games of Words-with-Friends and Scrabble, I got to thinking about my former days as a competitive fencer in relation to “wordplay/swordplay” or “wordsmanship/ swordsmanship” and realized the two have much in common.

As a wordsmith (swordsmith!), playing word games certainly mirrors swordplay. You need to scan the field of play (cf. the piste or the game board) to discern where your opportunities appear, then plan your attack and implement effectively (et lá!). If your attack has right of way and lands on target (I was a foil fencer), then touché, you win the point. If not, and your attack lands off target or misses altogether, your opponent may have an opening to take an advantage.


Writing is like swordsmanship on a grander scale as well, not only in word games. Writing, like fencing, takes practice-practice-practice! You need to hone your skill at whatever genre you are composing within, editing-editing-editing.

Both writing and fencing reward creative contemplation and envisioning, too. As fencing is in large part a mental or Mindful sport, I would spend a lot of time between lessons or between practices and tournaments mentally envisioning fencing strategies and possible responses. In practice we often even shadow-fenced against a phantom opponent. Likewise with writing, you may craft whole sentences or dialogue apart from pen and page. You might envision the structure of a chapter or play a whole story out in your imagination, crafting alternate storylines or voices, then delight in placing the envisioned episodes into your narrative form.


images are from pixabay.com

And so, in wordsmithing as in swordsmanship, enjoy! Keep at it. Gain new skills, try new approaches. Writing is such a satisfying, constructive activity at every level and at each stage from envisioning and preparation to execution and revision that it will never fail to support and reward your effort, regardless of extrinsic outcomes.