Looking for how to become a better writer? Start by improving your writing vocabulary. After all, the stronger your words are, the more powerful your writing will be.
But why is writing important? Why bother expanding your vocabulary and building your writing skills?
For starters, it may lead to fewer revisions during editing stages, meaning your essays and assignments won’t take as long to complete. And it may even result in higher grades for the work you turn in for class.
And who doesn’t want that?
There are many methods you can use to expand your vocabulary as a writer. Here are some tips on how to increase your word power.
1. Read More
Read a lot, and read from a variety of sources. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, novels, comics, and more can fill you up with new words you might never have seen without exploring these texts. The more words you put into your brain, the more words you will have available for you to use in your writing.
Reading other people’s writing can open your mind to a plethora of new words. (plethora=overabundance, excess.)
2. Look Up Words in a Dictionary
As you are reading more varied texts, you will come across words you don’t know. Don’t just simply gloss over them.
Instead, stop and look up the meaning of each new word. If you’re reading an e-reader, such as a Kindle, you just need to highlight the word and you’ll see the dictionary definition. Dictionary.com and the Merriam Webster dictionary app are also helpful to have on-hand.
Taking the time to investigate the meanings will help cement the word into your brain for future use. It helps cohere the new word to your memory. (cohere=to stick to, cling.)
3. Keep a Word Journal
Once you’ve looked up new words using your dictionary, record each new word in a journal. This will put all of your new words in one handy space. Refer back to your journal often to review some of the vocabulary terms you have gained.
Make a goal to incorporate these words into your writing (for school, social media, personal journals, notes, etc). Actively practicing these new words in written form will help you improve your vocabulary.
You will soon acclimate to using your fancier vocabulary. (acclimate=make or become adjusted.)
4. Learn a New Word Each Day
There are numerous sites that can help you learn a new word every day. Merriam-Webster has a Word-of-the-Day feature that has a mini-podcast each day to give multiple examples of how to use the word. Collins Dictionary also offers a Word of the Day.
As you visit these sites, make a note in your word journal of these new words. You can also visit an improve vocabulary app on your phone to get some word coaching on the go.
These circadian visits to learn words can help you stay on track with broadening your vocabulary. (circadian=daily.)
5. Use New Words Frequently in Conversations
Try out your new words verbally in daily conversations. Make a goal to incorporate one new word into your communication with others every day.
The more you speak and use new words, the more they will be committed to your memory. There’s definitely a connection between speaking and writing. Improving your spoken vocabulary also improves your written vocabulary and vice versa (or contrariwise.) (contrariwise=vice versa)
6. Play Word Games
Doing daily crosswords can help you step up your vocab game. There are online options or you can use the simple pencil-and-paper route.
Interactive word games like Scrabble and Boggle can be fun and educational for you and a group of your friends. Apps on your phone such as Words With Friends can also be entertaining ways to increase your vocabulary.
Many of these games are riveting. (riveting=fascinating, gripping.)
7. Choose Better, More Specific Words
Once you’ve started to learn new words and expand your vocabulary, choose better words in your writing. Certain vague words (like big or small) should be avoided and replaced with specific, more descriptive words.
If the house was big, was it colossal? Enormous? Monstrous? Gigantic? There are better choices you can make with an expanded vocabulary. Using these precise words helps paint a clearer picture for your reader. It also helps your writing be less obscure. (obscure=not easily understood.)
8. Use a Thesaurus
If you’re trying to incorporate more specific words, it’s helpful to use a thesaurus. When you see a vague word in your essay, look it up in a thesaurus and pick a more accurate and effective word.
OneLook has a thorough thesaurus that is extremely helpful. Or should I say practical? Beneficial? Handy? The thesaurus helps you find the exact word you are looking for. It will ameliorate your word choices. (ameliorate=make, become better.)
Becoming a better writer means choosing better words in your writing. The more specific and interesting your words are, the more engaging and comprehensible your writing will be. With a small amount of daily effort, you can increase your vocabulary and take your writing to the next level.