Annie On Writing

October 6, 2012

Stuck for a Word?

Filed under: Writing Tips — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am

When you are in the flow of writing, here is nothing worse than getting stuck for a word. We have all been there; grasping helplessly for exactly the right phrasing, the correct terminology, the perfect prose. Rather than flounder and continue the path of helplessness, which for most of us ends up in front of a block of chocolate, try some of these techniques or hints to ease your search.

Skip it and it will come. Ignore the word or phrase and just continue writing. If you were in the flow, don’t stop the creative juices mid stream. Most of the time you will find that as you write, the perfect word or description you were grasping for will come to you.  When it does, with the magic of modern technology, you can simply insert it into your text. Alternatively, use your arrows across the page, blob with highlighters or glue an extra scrap of paper into your journal. There is always a way to expand and insert more words!

Skip it and come back to it There are times the more you obsess about a recalcitrant word or phrase, the better they are in hiding from your consciousness. Words hate it when you ignore them. Skip the section you are having issues with and continue to write, intending to come back to it at a later date or time. Its almost guaranteed that the word or phrase will be so indignant on being left out of your page that it will appear and demand to be included.

Keep it simple Often the right word won’t come onto the page because there are too many flowery or unnecessary words crowing the paragraph. These lead to a muddled image in the writers ( and readers mind) Try to slash 10% of the paragraph or tighten it to seek your word.

Work around it. Try using synonyms to find your word.  The word you start with may not the exactly the one you are looking for, but it will activate your brain into searching for the one you need. I like to use the internet to speed this search up.

Google it I can’t imagine writing now without the assistance of the internet and more specifically, Google. The amazing thing about the search engines which power Google is that the more people use it, the more specific and targeted it becomes. I remember when a search had to be only a few words and be surrounded by * if you wanted a focused search. Now you just start typing in a question or a part of a sentence and within seconds, you have a number of sites to assist you to refine your search – or you have your word or phrase.

The right words If you are looking for the correct words for a song, poem, film or a quote – use this website for your search.

Phrase Finder. Occasionally, particularly when you are writing dialogue, you need to include a phrase, but it won’t quite come to you. THere are a few sites which will assist    and   are possibly the best ones with the widest scope.

It IS worth finding the exact word.

Mark Twain thought as such as he is quoted in saying.

“The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter, it’s the difference between the lightning-bug & the lightning.”


Enjoy your hunt for the right word.


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