One Minute Writing Tips: #1

Peter Mark Roget 1779-1869

Today is the first in a series of quick writing tips to help you both improve your writing and obliterate any blocks keeping you stuck or otherwise interrupting the flow of words and ideas. These are tried and true little nuggets packed with the power to propel you forward in whatever writing project you have before you.

Number One is to get a copy of Roget’s International Thesaurus, if you don’t already have one. This is a treasure trove of words, set down in such an organized way, anyone can find the word that eludes them. Roget was a doctor and lifelong student of science and medicine but he loved the English language. In fact he needed to write and converse eloquently to convey his, then, somewhat radical ideas and concepts.

I know it sounds dull and dry, downright dusty even, that inspiration can be had in a book that was first published in 1852 but I tell you the truth. Dare yourself to open Roget’s Treasury of Words, as it was originally titled, and look up a word. In my edition (the revised 7th, published in 2010), it’s best to go to the Synopsis of Categories, which begins on page 6, because this book is not alphabetical like a dictionary.

There are fourteen major categories which Roget named classes. For example: class one (not surprisingly) is The Body and the Senses. It’s broken down into 92 subclasses. Find the subclass that best fits your word search and turn to that page. These subclasses are further broken down into even more specific classes. The words at your disposal are extensive and colorful synonyms; phrases, nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Try it! I guarantee you’ll find words and whole ideas you hadn’t grasped a moment ago. Using a thesaurus will inspire you and elevate your writing to a whole new level.

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