The average person uses no more than about 1,500 words. An extraordinary low number when laid beside the millions of words that are available to express oneself in the English language. 1,500 words  – come on!

But those who aspire to write MUST increase their choice of words far beyond that. Why? Because choosing the precise word for a particular situation is all important.

‘Incandescent rage’ carries a more weighty punch than ‘intense anger’. A preacher up on his clack-loft has a more interesting ring to it than a preacher up on his pulpit. An undertaker at his trade does not have the same grab of attention as the death hunter at his trade. 

There are strange words that, on first appearance, seem of little potential usage to a writer. One of these might be poonac. This is the material left after oil is crushed from coco-nut pulp. Great – but how could a writer use such a word in ‘normal’ writing?  Well, we might use it as follows – After his powerful argument we were left with nothing more but the damp poonac of our own ideas. I’m sure many of  you can come up with far better usage of that word to carry a meaning that is an alternative to many tired and well-worn expressions. The point I am trying to make here is that ALL words have the potential to express ideas in refreshing ways. And the writer must suck up many of these if he/she is to become easy in the job of a wordsmith.

So how does one increase one’s bag of words? One thing that works for me is that I keep a notebook and write down unfamiliar words I come across. When you find a word unfamiliar to you go to the dictionary and find the meaning. But something else too – write down a sentence with the word included.

Have an ambition to write down, each week, no more than say five words with their meaning. That does not sound too much – and it isn’t. But during that week learn those words – AND USE THEM IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY CONVERSATIONS. Speaking them out like that will help you to lock them into your daily usage and, more importantly, make them available to you when you sit down to write.

A blacksmith has dozens of tools he can pick from to create what he intends. A writer MUST have thousands of words to hand if he/she is to pick the one that is most suitable to convey a particular meaning.  This holds through whether you write in Italian or Portuguese, American-English or Japanese.

I hope that this might help a little those thinking of taking up writing.

Best regards.  Patrick.