1. I read every day and jot down new words.
When I read, I put every single word (every single one!) that I don't understand into a little Notes file called NEW WORDS on my phone. I do this every night (I read in the evenings). Oh, and I quickly look up every word in a translator app in Russian so I know what it means. Besides new words I also type in whole phrases, or any particular similes or personifications or metaphors or hyperboles that I liked or that struck me as unusual (because some ways of bending words in English still elude me and I need to see examples to create my own). You can see them in the picture above in the REACTION category.
2. I look up the words' etymologies and categorize them.
The next morning, before I start writing, I open up the NEW WORDS file on my laptop (Mac picks it up from my phone automatically) and dump them into a TextEdit file by the same name (pic above). Then I start going through them one by one, doing the following:
- I drop the word (or phrase) into Google Translate (in my case it's tuned to Russian, but you can just use it for English to see definitions and synonyms) and then I read the definitions in both Russian and English and I read all the synonyms so I can have a clear picture in my head of the other words that mean a similar thing.
- I drop the word into the etymology tool and read about it, then sometimes read about the composite words, if there are any.
- I drop the word into the appropriate category in my NEW WORDS TextEdit file until all of them are appropriated.
- I read through the old words in the file and delete the ones that I can recall without snooping (some of this drives me up the wall because I can't fucking remember them no matter what I do).
- Now that I have a fresh batch of words in every category I throw each stack but the REACTION and the PHRASES ones (these I mix up by hand) into a paragraph randomizer tool, randomize them, and put them back into the NEW WORDS file but now thoroughly mixed up so that the next morning when I read them, they're in the new order.
- I save the file and start writing.
Whole post is here.