I have a new pre-writing habit. I used to only focus on jotting down bullet-point topics, conducting research, writing subheadings or even creating an outline for each piece.
Now, I also create word lists.
This step may only take 30 seconds or a few minutes, but it makes creating a first draft much smoother and faster.
Creating word lists instantly organizes my thoughts and fleshes out direction while giving me a boost of inspiration, making those first few sentences flow naturally.
What’s a Word List?
I usually take a notepad, or a blank computer screen, and using a free writing approach to jot down of a variety of descriptive words that relate to my article topic. Everything that I can think of gets written down without second-guessing. The list can be refined later, if necessary.
The list might be five or six words, or 30. It all depends on the topic and how inspired I feel.
Last fall when I was working on new product landing pages for a company that makes a variety of holiday teas, I created four-word lists. I labeled their language, emotions, season and flavor.
As an avid tea drinker myself, I tried to think of words that describe how tea makes you feel, what it tastes like, how it relates to the holiday season and what words describe the timeless, classic beverage.
How Do I Use a Word list?
Once I have a word list ready to go, I keep it next to me as I start composing. When I get stuck, I look at the list and find a word to express my next thought. Often, the ideas generated by the word list stay in my brain making it easy to create several paragraphs without using the same adjectives over and over again.
I often go to my word list when writing an introduction or conclusion, so I can use fresh words that haven’t already been featured in the body of the text.
I also find that a word list helps guide the overall tone of the piece. My tea client asked me to focus on the comforts of tea during the holidays and chilly winter season. If the focus had been on quality, locally sourced ingredients, my word lists would look much different.
Do you create word lists? Do you have any pre-writing tips to share? Comment below using Facebook!
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*This post was last updated on August 5, 2021.