When I was younger most of the TV that I watched consisted of animal documentaries so I was learning a lot of information that I was interested and invested in. I read a lot and I was writing whatever whenever it came to me, whether it was a five day streak of inspiration or thirty minutes on slow days. I would string my writing and conversations with new words I learned and I was constantly collecting information.
More recently I picked up an old crossword puzzle book and started on the last puzzle I had left off on thinking, “Yeah, my vocabulary is awesome! I can pick this back up no problem!” What a disappointment. I am ashamed to say I could decipher very few of these clues on my own unlike when I had first picked it up. Now, I’m not talking about high level puzzles with words and terms pulled from the dark corners of the dictionary reserved for the elite and stuffy. No, I’m talking about crosswords with a language level pulled from a well written book or well scripted movies; the words are the kind from a scientific documentary where the terms are blended so well that they translate their meaning easily in the context of a sentence. The words that made sense. What is more shameful to me is that when I peeked in the back for help I realized that I did actually know quite a few terms. The only reason I was not coming up with the answers on my own was because I had not been using them at all so they traveled to the ‘back’ of my head, hiding in the corners with information that is ‘deleted’ every few years.
So I have decided to change this.
The more I learn, the better my writing becomes (no one can truly tell you they do not like learning – it’s everywhere).
At my current job I am paid to watch TV programs and then generate questions that our company can quantify into data which they use to advise our clients on what types of brand insertions are successful, what areas it would be beneficial for them to expand in, what is not working or attention capturing, etc. Now, this does not necessarily expand my vocabulary but encourages the use of my current vocabulary. The change? I now bring that crossword puzzle book to work with me for my break time. Now when I am eating dinner or waiting for my edits to come in I put on instrumental music like Desert Symphony by The Piano Guys and work through a puzzle. I fill in as much as I can of one puzzle on my own and flip to the next one. Yes, I do leave the blanks blank. My goal is to let some of the clues simmer and knock around in my head, searching for the matching word. If after a few days I cannot figure out the word to a particular clue, or if it is something I never learned, then I allow myself to peek in the back to learn a new word.
This brings me to a challenge for you. Go to this site with daily crossword puzzles, start a game for free and just go through for fun and see what you can do. That’s not the only crossword puzzle site out there, just use your search bar! Also, it’s handy if you have the paper delivered to your residence, just ask to take out the section and give the rest back to your roommate or whoever reads the paper. Don’t mind the timer and you can mute the music if you have other music that you prefer to play. If you need help with a clue you can use Crossword Heaven but I implore you not to. Wait until the very end when you have filled out what you know on your own and just cannot go any further without help.
I wish you fun~