Getting bored and the search for better words…#acwrimo 2013

I have a confession! I’m bored! Really bored! Not of everything and anything. Not at all! It’s my writing! I’m bored of my own writing!

#Acwrimo provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on writing and this year, it’s my style that has me worried. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with it necessarily (although, and I may regret writing this, correct me if I’m wrong!) but I want to feel like I’m progressing and developing. Perhaps I am being over romantic? I write mainly for an academic audience. I present data analysis, I review academic literature. But I am wondering how I can improve; how I can move it forward.  

I think for me, a key problem is that I feel like I am reaching the limits of my vocabulary. There are only so many times I can use the word ‘however’ in a journal article. ‘For example’ is fine once or twice, but three times? I don’t like the over repetition of words but sometimes I just don’t know how else to express things. It’s hard to admit that writing is difficult and challenging especially when its part of the job but the great thing about #acwrimo is that this seems like a useful thing to do. I want to improve my craft. So what are the solutions?

A look through the #acwrimo resources posted on Twitter today has been really useful! I have come across some great online resources for widening vocabulary already. The Thesis Whisperer has a great section on her site with useful resources (here) including one called Useful Words. There is also the University of Manchester’s Academic Phrasebank.

I have a lot of work to do on my own of course. I need to continue to read a lot for one! 

So is this a common concern? How have you tackled this issue yourself? Got any good words for me to use? I’d be really fascinated (originally I wrote interested 😉 ) to know!

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5 thoughts on “Getting bored and the search for better words…#acwrimo 2013

  1. I think you might want to change your unit of analysis and check whether you are able to convey meaningful thoughts with your words Conveying complex thoughts in simple words can be really hard, but if you are able to do that, nobody is counting how many ‘howevers’ you use in your paper. Strunk & White and William Zinsser are really useful reading when you feel bored with words.

    I’m bored too, but mainly because the thoughts I’m regurgitating in the papers feel really boring.

    • Yes perhaps that’s what it is. I am still writing up findings from research I conducted nearly 3 years ago now and it feels a bit thin now. Difficulty getting funding to research has made it difficult to get new material to write about. Having said that, I have just written a journal paper about a project I was involved in last year and I think that this has made me wonder about the limits of my vocabulary.
      I agree that conveying complex thoughts simply is difficult. A paper I am peer reviewing is written in very dense language…I think! It might just be that the ideas are complex and can’t be conveyed simply. Finding that boundary is tricky!

  2. I find this can trouble me a little after I’ve read something that impresses me. But you’ve got your technique down pat, lady. Just never stop reading. Fiction, theses, journals. You get your vocab from what you read so just make sure you range far and wide, which I sure you already do. And it’s always handy to have a hefty thesaurus 😀

    • Thank you lady! 🙂
      I think it’s a confidence thing too! I’ve just been reading the most wonderfully dense writing that it’s made me think about the limits of my own. I prefer complex ideas conveyed simply!

      • You are right that is the best way – simple language for me often wins the race, especially when conveying anything complex. But you can garuntee there will be someone out there reading your journal articles and your language and thinking exactly the same thing!

        Either way the serach for ‘the voice’ is something all writers worry about, but most of them don’t realise they already have one 😀

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