Try this Lexicon practice to improve your writing – 1

I’m a bit tired this morning. My Son managed to keep me up for two hours plus last night, very generous of him. Part two of “Is the art of the computer game underrated?” will likely appear tomorrow. Today I’m going for a short writing exercise on Lexicon. It is a useful tool as a writer, it may sound a little dull, but I promise you, it is simple and very useful.

One writing book I find useful is “The Writer’s Portable Mentor, A guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life” by Priscilla long. On page 28, Priscilla refers to a Lexicon practice she used to partake in during the early hours of the morning as a means to start her writing day. She used to note words from her childhood. No meanings, context, explanations, emphasis, or anything, just the words themselves. She built up a library of the words she used to use in childhood, which in turn were relevant to the context she grew up in.


You may have noticed that I pick a Lexicon word of the day(see menu above) which to me are interesting words, words I’ve discovered, or words I have forgotten about. An alternative Lexicon list is to choose a subject or item, then try to think of all the words you can that you associate with it. These do not have to be words you think others may associate, just ones you yourself do. For example if your prompt was “The barbers” you may have a list of things you recall in the shop itself, but this may include “Model ship”. This might seem odd to some but correct to you if your barber had one in his shop. You might also include “Cracked pavement” if the pavement outside was cracked. The idea is to build a word list and see where it takes you. It will give you a context, maybe remind you of some small details that you can use in other writing. And that is where it is useful. It provides a resource of words to use in your other writings. It is up to you whether you use singular words or double words in the list. Myself I prefer a mix.

Here is an example list for me (in the often used tradition on this blog of “off the top of my head”) for “River”:

  • swampy mud
  • flat stones
  • skimming stones
  • Reeds
  • Daffodils
  • stale smell
  • Green pipe bridge
  • rope swing
  • Cold water
  • butane gas
  • tarmac path
  • bike ride
  • water dams
  • pebble island
  • tin cans
  • mossy wall
  • remote control boat
  • Historical monument
  • Burnt Plastic
  • Running dogs
  • sunbathing
  • historic bridge
  • warm summer evenings
  • thick air
  • midges
  • stinging nettles
  • scratched graffiti
  • dirty magazines
  • wet jeans
  • muddy shoes
  • cold fingers

This list took less than five minutes, I could go on and add a lot more. If you took time to browse the list you will notice things like “rope swing” or “remote control boat” which are not necessarily directly related to river. All the items on the list came from a small section of river that I used to go to as a child. However the point is now that I have a reference, if I want to use something with a river in it, in other work. I could easily use some items to add a bit of colour or concrete descriptions to the piece. Or I could use the list as a jumping place to something else, or a means to stimulate my mind.

Building up a notebook or similar on computer is a valuable little tool to add to your writing arsenal. It has the added benefit of stimulating your mind or getting the creative flow going, should you choose to build one.

Lexicon (regular) word of the day: rattletrap.


2 comments on “Try this Lexicon practice to improve your writing – 1

  1. I’m always on the look out for good writing books ….will be adding this one to my Amazon wish lst 😉

    Thanks hon


    • mrbrainsplat says:

      I quite like that book. I think the part I referred to was an introduction to a different exercise. However there are lots of good tips and simple exercises so I would recommend.

      Actually it was her mention of the 15 minute writer exercise which got me going again, and ended up as this blog.

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