I love verbs.

Think. Question. Nurture. Imagine. Explore. Create. Build. Nourish. Write. Reflect. Grow.

I write about politics, foreign policy, art, literature, sports, etc. I write about sunsets and farms and tragedy and turmoil. I write about celebrating triumph and worrying about what I can’t control, like my teenagers. And I know that when I am struggling to make words in print match ideas I want to convey, the reason usually is that adverbs, nouns and adjectives are trying to muscle out the verbs — my verbs.

So I remind myself: Keep it simple. Go back to basics. Let the verbs breathe and sing and undermine and catapult.

I learned to revere verbs from a grizzled journalist who wandered into the newsroom one Friday night when we were trying to jam headlines and stories together in a rush to meet the deadline for the bulldog edition. Some might say he’d had one too many; my guess is he would argue you can never get enough.

“That’s the problem with all of you,” he bellowed, his words slurring as he staggered past messy desks and overflowing wastepaper bins toward the copy desk. “You’re all adjectives. There’s not a verb in the place.”

For the record: There were some verbs lurking in the room, but not enough.

Sometimes verbs must be enticed from their hiding places, or freed from obscurity, or dragged into full view after receding behind more aggressive parts of speech.

Discover verbs. Illuminate them. Do it now.


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