Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finding the Right Word

You know, um, that thing, what's it called, when you're looking for a word and you don't know what it is? I have that problem constantly. The word's on the tip of my tongue, and I can't get it out. I keep thinking of other words that have a similar meaning, or that sound like the word I'm looking for, but they aren't it. Anyone have any good strategies for that?

So far this is the only thing that's helped me: I create a new document and just start writing down all the words that I know aren't what I'm looking for, but I'm thinking of anyway. Most of the time, when I see them all listed in front of me, the right word finally hits. This is a list I came up with recently when I wanted to describe someone having trouble breathing. I knew I wanted it to fit into the phrase "her ______ breaths."

This is the list that I generated:
fought for

Clearly, "heating" had nothing to do with anything, I probably only thought of it because it sounded like "heaving," but I wrote it down anyway. Finally got to the word "labored" after six tries.

Feel free to share your strategies for getting that right word in the comment section. I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. Hey!

    Well, I'm rarely at a loss for words. However, I do struggle with the right word at times. I like you're idea of listing everything you can think of. I get frustrated when the right word seems to be so commonplace and predictable that it does nothing to bring out the nuance of what I'm thinking.