While writing the morning pages today I caught myself reusing the same words over and over; although those sessions aren't intended to be perfect, to have anything ready to publish, I still chastised myself for a lack of imagination and vocabulary.

When writing digitally it is so easy to find alternatives, substitutes. I have things installed on my phone that easily allow me to look up words and check synonyms, meaning, context, but when writing by hand I only possess my wits and memory - things that have been failing me likely due to the overreliance on technology.

I don't believe I've owned a paper dictionary or thesaurus for over 20 years - that's criminal when you think about it.

I can recall times from my late teens and early twenties when I would spend hours getting lost in a thesaurus, going from page to page, entry to entry, finding ever more obscure connections between words, words that have long since left my lexicon.

The well thumbed and annotated thesaurus has been replaced by a pristine app; the physical, tactile act of turning the pages (that used to build a sense of suspense) has been superseded by the simple click or tap.

Things are easier, quicker, more convenient, but I'm not entirely sure that's progress.

  1. Brian G Fay says: #
    There's a great series in the New York Times called Letter of Recommendation. I've long meant to write something for it and my thoughts on a paper dictionary seem like my best candidate. That or the fountain pen. Dictionary: https://bgfay.com/blog/2018/3/21/the-writing-life-a-paper-dictionary
  2. Jeff Hawkins says: #
    I think that's the way it's supposed to be... You put your thoughts down... You then clean things up a bit. And a bit more... and then a word seems to be slightly off. Maybe another. And finally, you publish with a sinking feeling you could have done better... and your readers think, "Wow, this guy can really write!".

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