One of the factors that I didn’t cover in the “Writer’s Block” article is being stimied by the word you simply can’t think of and how to overcome it. The reason is that it is a completely unrelated situation. You can always make a notation and come back to it later and fill in.
There are 3 books that are always within reach. The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, Thesaurus, and Vocabulary Builder. Though they are seldom used now, I’ve worn out copies of them over my 25+ years of professional writing. They are an essential tool to any good writer that is starting out and even later in their career. Yes, you can always get online and search the word, which I often do, but having the books there allows me to do something I can’t with the online version. Randomly open it and read a page or two.
Having always been an aggressive reader, until the last few years of intense writing and business bootstrapping, it has expanded my vocabulary greatly. Though I still swap words on occasion, or find auto-correct has adjusted one or two for me, I’ve a better than average well to draw from and that is exactly the point.
A great writer is a voracious reader. This is true for the fact that the more a person reads the more words they know and know how to use. Classics were always my thing and they have a higher standard of writing. Even the classic pulp fiction was held to a higher standard. Today, with the self-publishing realm overtaking traditional publishing, which I’m all for, one thing is lost, which I’m not for. The lack of proper editing by qualified editors.
Writers write and editors edit. To find the correct (yes, I actually know the correct one to use) word for your works, the key is to be well read. Especially the classics. They’ll give you an advanced understanding of the written word, while helping to expand on your vocabulary, allowing you to never be stumped by what goes there again. Be wary of modern works and journalistic writings, as they often use words improperly, or put an inaccurate slant on them.
Besides being a great reader, actually writing, rather than merely talking about it, is the only other way to become a truly better writer. You can take all the classes you want, but if you don’t actually push the pen you’ll never get there. Spend some time each day, on a set schedule to teach yourself deadlines, and write. Journaling, blogging, or writing a novel, just get in the ink and practice. Writing is similar to doctoring in that we are always practicing, never quite perfecting.