5 Words Writers Should Stop Using Immediately


5 Words Writers Should Stop Using Immediately

There are 5 words writers should stop using immediately.


They are limiting words that create psychological and emotional barriers between writers and thier dreams. 

Barriers that don’t actually exist, mind you, but are no less destructive to passion, will power, drive and focus. 

More than semantics are on the line; these 5 words derive endless power from subtlety, harvesting energy from the doubt and denial of thier major role in defeat. 

In fact, the more defensive someone is about these words, the more power they gain. 

Is it really that big a deal? Yes, my friend, it is – because these words are: 

  • Words of Obligation 
  • Words of Lack 
  • Words of Procrastination 
  • Words of False Identity 
  • Words of Hopelessness 

Maybe now you’re getting a sense of the damage these words can wreck on a writer’s psyche. Consider how these words reveal beliefs about WHO a writer is and WHAT a writer can become. 

Ultimately, these 5 words, left unchecked, become self-fulfilling prophesies that all but destine a writer to fail. 

The 5 Most Destructive Words for Writers

  1. Should 
  2. Have 
  3. Aspiring 
  4. Just 
  5. Never


You really shouldn’t use SHOULD because, if you think about it, SHOULD presupposes obligation, casting legalistic mandates over your actions when the only thing you probably SHOULD do is drop the word SHOULD from your vocabulary. 

OK, and also eat, sleep and drink. 

Don’t SHOULD yourself in the foot. It levels a negative connotation on what is likely a joy and passion. 

When you say, “SHOULD” you are saying you somehow failed if you don’t. You are saying you know better but are unable to actually do what is good for you. What kind of person does that describe?

Take a second to really think about it – why SHOULD you do anything? 

What does “I SHOULD…” mean to you? Isn’t it usually the phrase of those who DON’T? 

Writing SHOULD be joy not obligation. 


HAVE is SHOULD’s evil twin brother. HAVE – as in HAVE TO – is another word of obligation 

Just as SHOULD implies an inability to control your behavior, HAVE implies an unhealthy dependence. 

“I HAVE to write.” 

“I HAVE to finish this book.”

Again, HAVE indicates lack of control and forced behavior. There is no joy in HAVE, no passion for the craft. 

HAVE is a word of lack, dependency and addiction. 


ASPIRING is a word usually applied to unpublished writers. A person might say, “I’m an ASPIRING writer”. 

There is nothing wrong with aspirations or honesty or accuracy.

There might, however, be more empowering ways to think about (and therefore speak about) your status as an author. 

It’s been said that, “If you write, you’re a writer. There is nothing ASPIRING about it.” 

Once again, we fall back on beliefs. ASPIRING seems to connote lack, that somehow your writing doesn’t qualify you as an actual full blown writer. 

This is a matter of identity and empowerment.

You might already know that most people live up to what they believe about themselves. 

  • If they think they are a failure, they fail
  • If they think they are bad, they behave badly 

What might happen if, instead of ASPIRING, you labeled yourself simply a WRITER. 

Isn’t that just as accurate? Might it be slightly more empowering to consider yourself worthy now instead of the postponement of ASPIRING?

You are a writer. Right now. There is no ASPIRING about it.


JUST is a word connected to inadequacy, lack and reduction. JUST robs identities of strength and power.

“This is JUST a little story I write.”

“I’m JUST an indie author.”

No! You are a beautiful, passionate being with life changing gifts to share with the world. There is nothing JUST about you. 

You are a force of good. You are a creative maestro. You are a writer. 


NEVER is a word often connected with permanency and hopelessness. 

“I’ll NEVER be good enough!”

“An agent will NEVER accept one of my manuscripts!” 

In truth, there are very few (if any) NEVERs in life. NEVER is an absolute word that rarely holds true yet nurtures weakness, failure and a bleak perspective of the future. 

NEVER is probably inaccurate. NEVER is negative fortune telling of a future that hasn’t happened yet. 

History (and bookstores) are full of failures who didn’t give up until they reached thier dreams.


If you use any of these 5 destructive words, I encourage you to think deeply about thier meaning, thier reality, thier assumptions and implications. 

If anyone knows the power of words, it is the writer. 

Do you use any of these 5 words? If so, I encourage you to consider replacing them with more empowering, life enhancing language. 

First, JUST drop JUST out of your sentences. It is unnecessary. 

  1. Replace SHOULD and HAVE with MUST & GET 
  2. Replace ASPIRING with AUTHOR 
  3. Replace NEVER with YET. 

MUST is a word of commitment and dedication. GET is a word of privelegde and gratitude. 

AUTHOR or WRITER is an accurate, empowering label that is true now, no waiting needed. 

YET is a hopeful word that breeds promise and excitement. 

Changing your language might not be easy but it is worth it. In my opinion, you MUST focus on your words so that you GET to choose your beliefs and labels, such as AUTHOR, while knowing the best is YET to come. 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in screenwriting, writer, Writing
2 comments on “5 Words Writers Should Stop Using Immediately
  1. You’ve articulated my dislike for the word “should”! I feel like someone who’s found a lost twin. You, too??? I even did a word study on “should” in the Bible… It’s not there! “Must,” sure, but not “should.” There’s something so shaming in that word; I’ve hated it for years! So glad you took the time to articulate the phenomenon!

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