It's hard. Writing is hard any time, under any conditions. Not as hard as handling a jackhammer in 110 degree city heat, mind you. And not as hard as chasing toddlers around the house after working all day. And not as hard as dealing with a boss who's dumber than a bag of hammers. But it's still pretty hard.
You know what in the English language is the dirtiest four-letter word? Hope.
Because we always have that hope, don't we, as writers? Hope that our project will outshine all the other work out there. Hope that we'll outshine our past projects. Hope that a big success may come our way because it's got to happen to someone, doesn't it? I mean, look at all those TV series and movies. They all started with the thing we do: a story.
But my post isn't about Hope. It's about the single basic building block of writers: words.
I just finished one of the best writing books I've read since Donald Maass--and if you've followed my posts, you know I'm a BIG fan of the Man. This book is The Writer's Portable Mentor, A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life by Priscilla Long.
A lot of stuff in that book. Good stuff. Hard stuff.
Like doing Lexicon Practice.
Long teaches that collecting words should be a regular, definite and specific habit for writers. She suggests buying a blank book--something with nice paper, something you want to keep for a while. Put two words per page, half a page each. Now this is not a typical vocabulary list full of words you learned for your high school English class. These are words that you find irresistable. Words that are, as Long says, juicy and hot. When you run across a word you like, put it in your Lexicon and later, when you make time, look it up and write down the definition and the root.
Put down words you know and like. Don't order your list. When you come across a word you like, add it to your Lexicon. Long suggests using concrete words, words that can be sensed. These are the words that make your writing "click" with a reader. Either nouns or verbs.
Words I have in my Lexicon so far: spindle, carroty, fissure, crawlspace, pockmark, felled, muck.
Nothing glamorous here. No movies or TV series.
See all those four-letter words?