A good vocabulary is an important tool for any writer. It does not matter whether you are a novelist, a journalist, a prolific letter writer, a poet or a blogger….. you need words.
Most people have a much larger vocabulary than they realise, apparently we all know about 40,000 words. But, we don´t use all of them regularly; some people seem to manage with very few in use. Teenagers for example seem to have a language of their own at a certain stage of their development that consists largely of grunts!
Most of the words we know, we hardly ever use and 50% of what most people say and write is made up of a tiny stock of the most commonly used words, as few as about 100, such as ‘the’, ‘because’, ‘have’, ‘was’! A wider vocabulary, used confidently can certainly make your writing more interesting
Solitary people do not have opportunities to use or expand their vocabulary through discussion. Even if they read and/or watch television quite a bit, they miss the interaction which is so important. Using words is the best way to familiarise yourself with them.
Talking is not just a way of expressing thoughts, it is a way of formulating them. Conversation is virtually ‘thinking out loud’. Discussing or arguing forces you to order your ideas, find the best way to explain them and you need a wide vocabulary to do it.
Writing is a little different, you do have time to use a thesaurus if you want to choose the best word and are not happy with the first one that comes to mind!
Expanding your vocabulary increases your word power so that you are able to express yourself more powerfully, more precisely and subtly.
It also means you understand more of what you hear and read and helps you to think more clearly.
Crosswords, puzzles, word games such as Scrabble and Boggle are all fun ways to use and explore your vocabulary.
Reading is also invaluable, but many people read a lot and yet their vocabulary hardly improves. The main reason for this is that people often read only within their familiar comfort zone. They take the same newspaper every day, read the same magazines and the same genre of fiction…..
A good way to break this habit with books is to join a Book Club. Members so often say, ‘I would never have chosen this book but I am so glad I read it.’ People who never read biographies will sometimes be asked to do so, for example. Stretching yourself to read something totally different automatically exposes you to new, or less familiar vocabulary. Analysing and discussing the books makes you think and appreciate the layers of meaning, the skills of the writers and the variety of work available. If you want to write, never underestimate the value of reading and talking.
Sharing your experience of a book will enable you to see it from different perspectives and will encourage you to read with more depth and interest.
Also you find yourself meeting and talking to new people, with new ideas, new expressions, bits if dialect….. For a writer it is all source material but found in the most palatable, natural and enjoyable way.
(Category: Advice and Information) Blog 4