Ever since I was old enough to use a dictionary, I have loved words. Even before I loved writing, I appreciated the mechanics of it, and words were the first way I came to be interested in writing. To give you an idea of my level of obsession with words from a young age, I had a workbook called Wordly Wise, and it was one of the few homework workbooks I ever adored. It had five lessons on a set of vocabulary words per week — one for each day of the week — and I was so enamored with learning vocabulary that I sometimes would complete an entire week’s worth of lessons on Monday, just for kicks.
I’m still fascinated by words, language, and linguistics. One of the hardest things for me as a writer has been learning to simplify my writing, and recognize the importance of word choice. Sometimes the best descriptions are the most minimal. Our imagination is programmed to fill in the blanks, but when writing is too detailed, it can’t do that. I’ve had to learn the value of scaling back my big word obsession and cutting out unhelpful adverbs in favor of writing clear, descriptive prose.
This requires a discipline that I didn’t have before, an attention to clarity and the reader experience that I never considered back when I was mostly writing for myself or for academia. Now that I write fiction, I’m more attentive to words than ever, but I’m also carefully learning to care more about what they evoke in a reader’s imagination more than how perfectly chosen they are.