Books & Writing

Aspiring to Become a Wordsmith

I’ve touted e-books in the past. I love that I can take all the books I’m currently reading and have read recently (or years ago) with me in my iPad. Also, my highlights and notes are easily accessible wherever I’m at, so I don’t have to try to remember what I’ve read.

Something else I appreciate about reading e-books is the ease of looking up words in a dictionary. Before e-books, I would ignore words I didn’t know and just try to understand from the context. But now I can simply tap on the word and discover why the author used a particular word. With some authors I’m constantly tapping the dictionary button.

I think many writers, and just about all artists, struggle with feelings of inadequacy. (Since I’ve never collected all my thoughts into a single volume, I don’t consider myself an author, just a writer. I’m not sure the difference, but it’s in there somewhere.) Personally, I am not happy with my cognizance of the English language. Simply put: I don’t know as many words as I’d like. Verbs, in particular.

The writers who force me to tap for the dictionary use words that describe more succintly (more than familiar words) what they’re attempting to communicate. It would take sentences, even a full paragraph for me to describe what could be said in a single word.

The problem, however, is that a writer who uses unrecognizable words is not often read by the masses. (Do I have any aspirations of being read by masses? Maybe. I don’t know.) I think somewhere there’s a balance of writing in a manner that is easy to grasp but perhaps also a little challenging.

I’ll continue to consult my thesaurus when writing, but I also want to get to a point where I just know the right words. Although, there’s far more to writing than words. Among a myriad of things, writing also involves rhythm, not unlike music. (See, right there I could have substituted a better word in place of things. Though, I liked myriad.)

I guess I just want to become more like the writers I like to read.

How about you? Who do you like to read? What do you like about your favorite authors’ writing?

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