What to Do When You’re Stuck on a Word

Getting stuck on a word while you’re writing can be an incredibly frustrating feeling. You have an idea of what you want to say, but you don’t know how to make it come out in written form. I write roughly 15,000 words per day (no lie), so getting stuck on a word just isn’t an option for me. I constantly have to be on my toes, or fingers in this case. Through my writing journey, I have figured out a few easy ways to get that word I’ve been looking for without wasting a ton of time in the process. Here are a few tips that should help you do the same the next time you cannot think of what you want to write.

Use the Thesaurus

The thesaurus could be your best friend when you get stuck on a word. For those of you who think “thesaurus” is just a typo I made referring to the dinosaur, a thesaurus is essentially a directory or words that act as synonyms to other words. For example, if you look up “writing” in the thesaurus, you will see the following results: “address, author, autograph, bang out, chalk, commit, communicate, comp, compose, copy, correspond, create, dash off, draft, draw up, drop a line, drop a note, engross, formulate, ghost, indite, ink, inscribe, jot down, knock off, knock out, letter, note, note down, pen, pencil, print, push a pencil, put in writing, record, reproduce, rewrite, scrawl, scribble, scribe, scriven, set down, set forth, sign, take down, tell, transcribe, turn out, typewrite, write down, write up.” You can use a thesaurus to lead you to the word you actually want to use.

If you are typing through Microsoft Word, you can access the built-in thesaurus by right clicking on a word and selecting the synonyms. You can also put your cursor in the middle of the word and click Shift+F7. That will pull up the thesaurus results for the word so you can see what options you have to choose from.

If you aren’t using MS Word at the moment, you can look for your results on Thesaurus.com. There you will find a huge array of synonyms and antonyms that will inevitably spark your memory about whatever word you’re looking for.

Use the Dictionary

If you know a word that is close in meaning to another word, you may want to look at the definition of it in the dictionary to see if you can figure out what it is. This may not be quite as effective as the thesaurus, but it can help when you’re completely stuck on a word. You can look through an actual dictionary if you want to, or you could use Dictionary.com. Either way, you should be able to find a definition that will at least get your mind going in the right direction.

Talk It Out

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my husband about a word only to figure it out on my own right after I asked. Sometimes all you need to do is look at someone else to draw inspiration in your own mind. Of course, it is entirely possible for the other person to figure out the word for you, depending on how much he or she thinks like you. Together, you may be able to figure out what you want to write.

Worse comes to worse, you can always skip over the word and come back to it later on. Just put ***** or something similarly noticeable in place of the word to make sure you come back to it in the future. Getting stuck on a word may be frustrating, but it is not impossible to get through. You just need a little inspiration to get your mind rolling where you need it to.