Writing Assignment: Plant A Word Garden

by Randy Murray on April 20, 2012

It’s Spring. At least it’s Spring for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere. And that includes writers.

As a writer it’s easy to become a hermit, a virtual cave dweller, to whom seasons come and go with only the slightest recognition. But Spring, Spring deserves your attention, your fealty.

It’s a time to re-read “The Elements of Style,” to go for a walk, to clean your desk, and to start a new project.

And one such project is a word garden.

A word garden, my own creation, is an excellent tool for writers of all experience levels. It’s the place where you keep all of the words that you’ve been misusing, misspelling, and generally abusing. Your word garden can be a list or file of these words. Review them often. Think about them, research them. Find out why you are having problems with them. Work with them in your writing practice and Writing Assignments.

When you read or hear a new word, plant it in your word garden. Don’t immediately start using a new word! You’ll need to really make it your own first. Cultivate it, work with it, try it out. Experiment with it. But keep it out of your productive writing until you’ve proven that you can use it correctly and use it well.

For today’s Writing Assignment, start your word garden.

Make a list of all the words, terms, and phrases that you have been struggling with, misusing, and misspelling.

Keep this list with you. A small notebook or index card can make an excellent word garden.

Every time you find that you’ve misspelled a word repeatedly, add it to your word garden. Every time you come across a new word or term that interests you, plant it in your word garden.

Then regularly, daily, review your word garden and work through it. Give yourself spelling tests. Use these words in writing assignments and exercises. Master them, then move them off and into production.

A garden is a living thing. Your word garden will be a living document, too.

Tend it well.


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