As a budding writer myself, I find it useful, thought provoking and necessary to read all the advice that actually is being thrown in our direction. The advice comes in many different shapes, different sizes and sometimes comes so subtly that you don’t even realise that it is advice at all. And then there are the many ways to read the advice, be it generally online through websites and blogs, through social media networks and of course oldschool style, through magazines.
I do buy a writing magazine each month, subject to stock availability however, but the majority of the time, the plethora of advice spread across the pages does in fact help me greatly. It is extremely interesting to read other writers’ points of view, their methods of writing and other traits. In Writing Magazine’s September 2012 issue for example, there is a wonderful article entitled Little Rituals, in which it describes many writers little rituals to help them clear their mind for writing.
Twitter is also a great medium to use to look for advice. I follow the username @AdviceToWriters because it submits interesting, well known, not so well known, morale boosting, uplifting, encouraging quotes from celebrities, writers, politicians etc. It can be very encouraging to read something that stands out and inspires to you to start writing or continue writing as the case may be.
However, I recently read a piece of advice online, advice that has been told elsewhere plenty of times I’d like to add, that I actually do not agree with. It goes something like this:
“If you can find an easier way to say something, do so. If there is a more well known word to describe something, use it.”
I cannot disagree with this statement any more than I do already. I do however, understand this statement, but on the whole I do think it is unhelpful. And before you jump down my throat, I’d like to tell you why.
Imagine all the children today with mobile phones, teenagers who shorten every word until there are no such things as vowels anymore; dead, buried, extinct. Have you seen the new reports on how children cannot even spell correctly in exams any more and instead adopt the culture of Text Speech? The English language is a vast chasm full of unexplored, lost and forgotten, wonderful words in which are seldom used anymore. Wouldn’t it be great to educate people as well as entertain?
Of course, simply getting out a thesaurus and picking an alternate word for every other one in a sentence is pretentious and unnecessary. But what is wrong with using synonyms every once in a while? Wouldn’t it be great if a reader comes across an adjective they have never heard before, picks up a dictionary and independently searches out its meaning, thus learning a new word?
I have the ‘Dictionary’ app on my iPhone and on its home/start up page it randomly picks a word and displays its meaning. Every other day or so I make it one of my rituals to load it up and read this word. Today, for example, I learnt the word ‘deflagrate’ which means to burn suddenly and violently. Be sure to spot it out in one of my books in the future ….
Seriously though, I dare you, start to try out lost words; don’t just find an easy way to say something for the sake of it. Explore, create wonderful different sentences using many different variations. I’m sure it would be worth it.