The Secret of Mark Twain’s Way with Words

August 6, 2012

Mark Twain remains one of America’s most prolific authors.But how did this simple man from Hannibal, Missouri develop his delightful facility with words?

As a young man, he traveled all the way from Missouri to Nevada by the ponderously slow and really painful stagecoach. Food—and sometimes even water—had to be carried for both passengers and horses. Extra weight might have meant the difference between safety and disaster; baggage was charged for by the ounce; and yet Mark Twain carried with him a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary over mountain passes, across scorched deserts, and through a land infested with bandits and Indians.

But Twain wanted to make himself master of words, and with his characteristic courage and common sense, he set about doing the things necessary to bring that mastery about.

Even Abraham Lincoln, according to biographers Nicolay and Hay, “would sit in the twilight and read his dictionary as long as he could see.”

The thing is these are not exceptional instances. Every writer and speaker of distinction has done the same.

If studying the dictionary worked for Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln—both masters of the written word—it will work for you too! Take some time to work on expanding your vocabulary and watch what a difference it will make in your personal and business life.

This article has been brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Ohio. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles

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