As a writer, there are two very essential tools you must have if you are ever to be thought of as a professional. You probably already know about these tools, but you may not be using them as often as you should. They are a dictionary and a thesaurus. Without them, you are no better than the average Joe.
Any high schooler can sit down and write a decent report about a subject that interests them. It may even be grammatically correct (although given the number of errors I see online in other people’s blogs and on their websites I have my doubts). But, you are not writing a report. You are writing a booklet and it must be informative and/or interesting to read (and it helps if it is grammatically correct too!).
In order for your booklet to be informative, it must be clear. This is where the dictionary comes in. If you are not certain whether to use a particular word, you can look it up and see exactly what it means. I recently did this and found that a word I wanted to use meant something entirely different than what I thought it did. It was a word I did not use very often, thus I felt I needed to look it up to be sure that I was using it in the right context. A dictionary can really make the difference between you being perceived by your marketplace as an amateur or as a professional who really knows their stuff. Writers who are highly paid usually have more than one dictionary within arm’s reach at all times.
In addition to having information in your booklet that is clear, you also want it to interest the reader. You’ll need a thesaurus for this. A thesaurus is like a dictionary in that you look up words, but instead of it giving you an explanation of what the word means it will give you other words that mean the same thing or close to the same thing.
A thesaurus is useful because it can make your writing more interesting to read, and just like a dictionary, it can also make it more clear. For example, imagine you are about to use the word ‘excite’ in a sentence. There may be a better, more descriptive word you can use. If you are writing to businesses and telling them how to improve employee productivity, you could tell them to excite their employees with a special bonus program. But, a better word for this would be ‘motivate.’ When you look up the word excite in the thesaurus, you’ll find the word motivate, as well as several other choices for your consideration such as spur, energize, stimulate, inspire and awaken.
Learning to use these tools will greatly improve your writing and make you look like a pro. And you don’t even have to go to your local bookstore to buy them. Just hop on over to www.dictionary.com where you’ll find a dictionary, a thesaurus, and more!
To your riches!