Finding the words

11 Jan

Finding the best perfect words to complete a well-constructed sentence can be tough a frustrating, even intimidating—task.  [Yes, that’s exactly what the fourth draft of this post looked like before I put it online.  You should have seen draft #1!] 

Every writer willingly bears the burden of conveying a precise image or feeling flitting through her mind to an audience that would otherwise be left disconnected.  The ultimate goal is for our story, poem, article or song to touch others the same way our art has inevitably touched our own souls.

But all too often, the perfect phrase lies just out of reach or escapes our grasp entirely. 

I’m not sure about your writing sessions, but when I get into my writing trance there is typically a backlog of ideas forcing their way onto the page—conversations, emotions, heck, even smells.  If I were to take the time to stop and ponder the exact words I wanted to use, I’d fail to capture the rest of what’s in my mind. 

One way I’ve been able to combat this issue is by writing through it.  When words elude me, I leave a blank space and keep trudging onward.  I’ve even found myself writing the elementary-school version of words as temporary placeholders—words so crude that, if my high school English teacher were to read them, she’d be left with a mild twitch.   During one of my many editing sessions I will catch the error and be able to dedicate the brainpower to make the required changes (I hadn’t actually wanted to write a lot of people but a mob of spectators).  

For those of you who have been doing this for a while, I’m sure this is not a new concept to you.  Or maybe it is!  Who knows?  Perhaps you no longer have a problem finding the perfect phrase on the first go around.  Do you even write drafts anymore? 

However, for the rest of us who continue to stumble and find ourselves fixating on one minor (or major) detail, try leaving a blank space or insert a note [i.e. add witty retort] and continue on your quest.  Keep writing or typing until your fingers cramp, your eyes blur, and you have to pee so badly your bladder is in danger of exploding. 

I’d love to hear other tactics my fellow writers use when/if this issue arises.  Please tell me I’m not the only one!



6 Responses to “Finding the words”

  1. EllieAnn January 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    you’ve captured the way I write, too! By the time i sit down at the computer, my pent up words/ideas/conversations are bursting from my fingertips. I usually “write” while I do mundane chores around the house–and just cough it all up the next time I get to the computer.
    Of course, this is after I’ve written character profiles, plot outline, and world building … it’s after I already have the story in place.
    I don’t wait for the right word…I let it come to me, whether in the first, second, or third draft…it always comes. =)

    • movingforeword January 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

      EllieAnn- I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said. It always comes and, more often than not, it’s better than you originally envisioned. Thank you!

  2. D R Sanford January 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Every time I sit down I go through that. The key for me is plunking down the elementary alternative and waiting for the good stuff to show up somewhere else. Usually the only time I really worry over words is when I have to fend off repetition or stay away from weak verbs. -This comment included at least four edits :)-

    • movingforeword January 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

      DR- I LOVE hearing how many times people edit their comments. I do the same thing. It’s hilarious when I read what I first wrote and compare it to the “final” draft.

  3. tricia linden January 13, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    I do my best writing with pen and paper. That’s when the words seem to flow. Then, when I get to the computer I tweek and try to put some polish on the mish-mash that is in my notebooks. Sometimes it works better than others. Welcome to blog world. Enjoy always, T

    • movingforeword January 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      That is exactly how I write. I start with pen and paper then try to make sense of my shorthand as I type it into the computer. To me it really does seem easier because I can jot down notes in the margins and circle words that don’t fit or are redundant without having to mess with the flow. It’s nice to know there are still some others out there hashing it out the “old-fashioned” way.

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