Writing practice: unpack and build your own Word Hoard

I guess there are a lot of us out there, keen on everything “on writing”. Am I right? The books on writing, new notebooks, shiny pens- everything is so tempting. But writing exercises are the best. This awesome feeling that you do something about your writing – you actually improve it – is priceless. And the last book I wrote about (Spellbinding Sentences) is full of such pleasurable moments. Practice, practice, practice – it’s the motto of this book, and I totally love it. Ok, what I was talking about? The exercise, right. Meet the funny, playful practice called The Word Hoard. Play with words and feel yourself like a smart dragon with hoard full of books and precious words!


1. Unpacking the Word Hoard

  1. Begin with the freewriting (up to 5 minutes.2-3 is also fine. Just write everything that comes to your head. Non-stop)
  2. After a couple of minutes, let your attention shift to the words only. Write words, collect words, only words (up to 5-10 minutes). Write the first word that comes to your mind. For example, here is what I had during this practice: Precious, shiny, male, throne…
  3. Done? Relax for a few minutes, Now, go through this weird collection, reading them out loud slowly.
  4. Mark the words you particularly like, read them again, listen to them. What do you notice about your Word Hoard?


2. Make words your own

  1. As you may have discovered, you have some words in your Word Hoard that you never use. To make them your own, you need to use them.
  2. Pick a few words you rarely use and any others you might need to build a sentence, dialogue, maybe even a story or a poem. Play with them, use as building blocks, and have fun! The same you can do with the words you didn’t know before or were not sure about their meaning.


3. Build your Word Hoard

As the author of the book says, we can collect new word in 2 ways:

  • from inside (“internal collecting”)
  • from outside (“external collecting”)

Here is how it all works. Fairly simple, by the way!

Internal collecting

  1. Pick a subject you know something about (gardening, football, coding, your grandma, etc.)
  2. Then, without stopping, spend 5-10 minutes collecting all the words connecting to this subject. If you stuck – just repeat the previous word, don’t stop!
  3. You can do this with other ideas, personal experience, a place, a person…
  4. Or, you can invent a character (or pick one from the book you love) and spend at least 5 minutes collecting all the words connecting to them. Or write the sentences that this character would speak, using his or her vocabulary.

External collecting

  1. Collect various words from conversations: go to a place where you can overhear people, a cafe, perhaps. Now turn your attention to the word choice of the person.
  2. Also, you can collect from reading: take some time to read not for content, but for words instead. Write down all the words you didn’t know or particularly like.

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