How to Find The Right Words

Have you ever struggled to find the right words? As if you knew in your heart what you wanted to write, but just couldn’t translate all that you felt into words? As if something always got lost between your head and your fingers?

And this is even more frustrating because how you write determines what your readers understand.

If you ever struggled to find just the right words, arrange them in the right order, and get your point across to your readers, here are a few tips for producing great content even when it feels like your brain is against you.

Do you know what you want to say?

Before you write, you need to know what you’re going to say. Are you struggling because you don’t have a clear idea of the point you’re trying to make?

In media res

You might find it helpful to begin with the “meat” of your article.

Come back later to craft a killer headline and introduction.

Again, this works because your focus is on your point rather than your presentation.

Walk it off

Maybe you just need a break. Walk away, do something else. Rest your brain. Come back refreshed and ready to go.

Some of the greatest ideas in history have been arrived at on a zen-like stroll.

Say it out loud

Imagine a friend is asking what you are writing about. What would you say?

You have to make sense of a problem in your own mind in order to explain it to someone else.

Rewrite the living life out of it

In most cases it is harder to get “something” written than it is to polish, so just try to dump the basics out of your head and onto paper and work on perfecting it later.


While some people seem to be able to write perfect prose on demand, the rest of us mere mortals have to work within the limitations of our imperfect grey matter. Hopefully these simple tips will help you next time you are in a fix.

What do you do when your brain locks up? Let me know in the comments!

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41 thoughts on “How to Find The Right Words

  1. Hi Jordan…I can totally relate! My blog can be very technical and I am always aware that there are many know-it-all critics out there just waiting to pounce on one wrong word. This can make writing very difficult, but I’ve learned to use all of the techniques you have noted and so far it has served me well.

    One additional thought I would add is that you don’t have to create everything from scratch. I certainly don’t mean plagiarizing, but building off an idea or a topic from another article (and linking back to it) can be a great way to break a block and get your thoughts to flow.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you so much for this article! I’m a homeschooled student and have had amazing writing curriculums that I look back to for guidance: “Institute for Excellence in Writing” and “Lost Tools of Writing”. Both say to start with the body of the article/essay, then the conclusion, and lastly the introduction. I’m happy to see I’m doing this right!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I put it to one side and write something else for a while – my subconscious usually figures it out while I’m writing other things. As you said, walking works too. And meditation.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is excellent advice and very well written. When I’m struggling with writing, walking away is a must for me. However, I like brainstorming the most. Like you said, start with the “meat” and then I map out the potatoes. I always keep a notebook near by for such events as mere typing just doesn’t cut it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post! This happens to me a lot. I had brain surgery and have to work much harder now to remember proper nouns as well as more specialized words in fields/ areas I don’t think about a lot. I implemented two methods to address this that are working well. 1- When I can’t think of the right word but my thoughts are flowing, I just keep rambling- like I’m trying to explain what I’m talking about right on the paper/ screen within parenthesis. This allows me to paint the big picture and come back and search for the word later and edit it. Often it pops into my head in its own later. 2-when I’m ok to slow down, I search google with a description and see what comes up, or if I think of a similar word I look up synonyms. It takes more time but it’s important for me to say what I mean and I don’t have the time to do that when I speak verbally, so I look at it as a gift. Hope this helps!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Hey Lahla! 🙂

      Stories like this, is what you people should write about! In blogging, blunt honesty and telling a story is HUGE!

      Your comment was not only inspiring, but grabbed my attention so much that I had to comment.

      Thanks and keep it up! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  6. I like to think linear, but usually my brain functions like a spider web. I kind of obsess over outlines or templates or a concept map to write my articles for blogs. So as for visualizing my prose, I can see the components of it. But, identifying a good subject or prompt and a “theme statement” is a start. you know the “purpose.” writing down the meat it good, usually that is topics. So for example, I like baseball, I want to talk about about baseball (subject). The Toronto Blue Jays are my favourite baseball team (theme statement), than I can talk about why it is in two paragraphs (character, althetism). Sometimes I just plagarize a writers mode of thinking as contrast for something I personally experience, like how do I write a blog. Um, just jot down words about a subject and end with a period. Revise the convoluted verbage after a break.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great tips! I either go clean something, visit our prairie and take pictures, go for a hike in our timber or work in our garden (it’s an acre and we’ve had a bumper crop this year!).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Be honest and unfiltered!

    The more deep stuff you share –> the more original you will be –> the more unique you will be –> the more different from the masses you will be –> the more people you will attract.

    Thanks for sharing these tipps Jordan! Keep it up! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Stepping away and coming back to whatever writing I’m working on usually helps for me. But sometimes I have to step away from it for a full day and come back the next day. Also I find doing outlines before writing all my ideas out helps me too whenever all my thoughts get jumbled together at once.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sometimes if I can’t find the right word or term, I make one up!!! (I actually thought I invented the word “Vertiginous”, whilst travelling internationally and feeling that sort of dizzy, unreal, feeling related to jet-lag, but, I later found that Diana Wynne Jones used it somewhere or other)If I’m finding explaining something too hard I fall back on appealing to the the reader to use their imagination and or their senses or go away and do something else because I’m probably doing the old perfection cycle or something! People will always interpret what you say in their own context, so, even if you think you expressed something complex in wonderful language, what they read could easily mean something else entirely, to them! Thanks Jordan, I enjoyed your thoughtful post – it made my own thoughts run off in nineteen different directions!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I really appreciate your advice to make sure I know just what it is I mean to say! It’s such good advice, that once I read it, it seems so obvious that it shouldn’t even need to be stated. And yet it does. 😉 When I’m stuck, I like to call in an image. It seems a picture really is worth a thousand words.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That idea of getting it all out and then coming back to it later works for me. I want to have it right the first time – think it through in my head and then just get it out correctly. It’s better to just vomit the material and then work with it.

    Great post as usual! Sorry for the visual….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Self belief and ‘clarity’ go hand in hand. Know and believe that what You are about to share will help create a beneficial Life for those around You and Your world.

    God bless Your Journey

    Like

  14. I just tend to write quite quickly but I will batch write. I take frequent breaks from writing and it’s then that I just read. Right now is a writing break to come up with some more ideas.

    Like

  15. Sometimes when my writing is having a difficult time with a topic, I may do several things to free my mind and to open it up:

    Taking a walk. Being with nature clears my mind and energizes me.

    Writing on another piece. I generally have more than one project that is not finished yet.

    Read. Reading opens up my mind. I am reading a novel right now that has me eager to read more.

    Like

  16. This usually happens to me with poems. Often I would feel so much and I want to put them into words, specifically into a lyrical poem like the way I used to when I was but a kid, but I can’t do it now. I don’t know what happened and it makes me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I read that it’s harder for introverts such as myself to put their thoughts into words. Knowing what I want to write is the easy part but my mind is paralyzed. I start a sentence then I hesitate and then stop. I say words that are close to what I mean but not exactly. I read other blogger’s content that seem to express themselves so effortlessly and I think to myself..”why can’t I just spit it out? If only my brain would cooperate…

    I process information deeply, trying to think of the exactly right word can be a daunting task. In social situations, I feel that I fall behind fast talking extroverts. There are times it may sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about, even though I do. In school I used to shrink back from raising my hand even I was sure I knew the right answers because I knew it would be challenging for me to put my thoughts into words.

    One of the reasons I believe is so difficult for me to find the right words is because I over analyze, turning them over and over in my mind, accessing from every angle.

    Liked by 4 people

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