They Say, I Say: A Writer Wednesday Post

August 27th, 2014 | Posted by Irene in Essays

They Say, I SayThey Say/ I Say, photo & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2014

To listen to this post, please click here: They Say:I Say

Flipping through notebook pages recently, I came across a little game I played with myself earlier this summer, and thought you might enjoy playing it as well—

A great resource for any writer, Stanley Fish’s excellent book, “How To Write A Sentence” references “They Say/I Say,” a book on rhetoric and academic writing whose authors suggest using “they say/I say” to practice building arguments.

Build an argument if you like–I think it’s fun to just to see what your brain does with the proposal. Take a piece of conventional wisdom and contradict or modify it.

Here are a few I came up with:

They say practice makes perfect, but I say practice outlasts perfection.

They say living well is the best revenge, but I say revenge is deadly.

They say hope is for suckers, but I say it’s for creators.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I say a loving word is worth a thousand pictures.

They say you can do whatever you put your mind to, but I say not without your heart.


What do you say?

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  • Laura

    Hmm, I think you are smart and very playful. I always disliked sayings that suggest unpleasant compromises:”Don’t throw out the dirty water until you have the clean” they say- I say: They you may always live with dirty water.

    • Scott

      Yeah. Sometimes the emptiness in a water bucket leaves room for something else, totally different, to occupy that space.

    • IreneOGarden

      Well-aphoried, Laura!

  • Scott

    They say that getting older is slowing down. I say that getting older is choosing your journeys with greater care and going at the proper speed. Who needs a speeding ticket when you’re 60?

    • IreneOGarden

      I like it, Scott! May all your tickets be golden!

  • Debra Griner

    Loved reading these, Irene. Well….not exactly but along the same lines…They say: Kill 2 birds with 1 stone I say: Feed 2 birds with 1 worm.

    • IreneOGarden

      Yay, Debra! I feel the same, particularly about that quote–I often say “Hatch two birds with one egg,” but it’s so nice to feed the birds (tuppence a worm?)

  • Ann

    They say Wednesday’s child is full of woe, but I say nay due to Wednesday’s writing posts!

    • IreneOGarden

      Thanks, Cookie!

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