Or in my case : don’t feel embarrassed by the fact that you’re a non-English native writer and that your vocabulary doesn’t fit that of best-selling novelists.

You can’t imagine how many time I’ve put my e-mail address into one of these subscriptions lists to learn a new word a day, to enhance your vocabulary, only to never read any of these emails and click “delete” as soon as they appeared. I’d always think : Yeah, well another day maybe. Haven’t got the time today. Or: Yeah, right, like I have time for that stuff.

I do admit to using some online thesaurus programs or online translation platforms (no, I’m not talking about Google translator here!!), because sometimes the right word just seems to exist in another language than English. I guess that’s the downside from being multilingual: your brain thinks in all of these languages, and when you’re writing you’ll be like : Yes! That’s what I mean! And then : Oh damned, that’s French / German / Icelandic / … (fill in the empty space with your language of choice).

And most of the times I do resort though to my good old friend the real-life thesaurus you can touch!

Writing thesauraus

I read Stephen King’s “On writing” about a month after finishing my first novel. And although I sometimes looked for help in my thesaurus, I very often just felt like what I had initially written was exactly what I had meant, and that “dressing it up” just didn’t feel right. And most of the times, I think you should just put on the paper exactly the feeling that is coursing through you. If it is a raw, passionate feeling : express it. Don’t be afraid. And as with all matters in life : Keep it simple. Less is more. There’s some truth to this stuff, you know?

I am approaching the heart of this book with two theses, both simple. The first is that good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style) and then filling the third level of your toolbox with the right instruments. The second is that while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.