A writer’s best tool

It’s that time of the month at work when I’m busy churning out ghostwritten newspaper columns before they’re due to editors; drafting monthly blogs for clients; and helping account managers write and finesse e-newsletter intros. I’ve also been playing around with flyer copy for a new client.

As I rush to meet deadlines and get my words down for each assignment, I tend to resort back to the familiar, sometimes dull language I use in my everyday life… until it’s time for me to self-edit.

When I do, I read my work aloud and think, “Does the way this sounds match what I’m trying to convey? Could I say this better? Could I be more descriptive?”

As a writer, my goal is to tell a story. Be it a story about myself or a story for one of my agency’s clients, a long-form essay or a few sentences on a flyer, every word should have a purpose. More importantly, every word should create a cadence and a flow.

While I don’t write poetry, I believe my writing should create a song of sorts in readers’ minds.

Here’s where my favorite writing tool — the thesaurus — comes in.

While it’s important for writers to be well read and have a strong vocabulary, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never know every word in the English language.

By using a thesaurus, I can find that perfect, potentially unknown word. The one that has the right sound, the nuanced meaning and saves me from being too repetitive with my language.

A thesaurus can also be useful when starting a project. This week, I helped a client come up with new ad concepts. Going off their notes about the new direction they wanted to go in, I started plugging words they provided, as well as ones that came to my mind, into an online thesaurus. The result was several options of taglines, headlines and phrases to drive their ads in a new direction.

I’ve been complimented several times this week because of the creative concepts I’ve presented, or the language I’ve used in my writing.

I want to tell everyone bestowing these compliments to not thank me, but to thank the thesaurus.

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