Things I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo: That Perfect Word

Have you ever had difficulty trying to find that *perfect* word? It’s on the tip of your tongue, and you know what it means… but don’t know what it is. I’ve been there too, believe me. Today we’re going to talk about what you should do when you run across the problem of trying to find your perfect word.


Week 1 – Saving Your Work

Week 2 – Your Writing Time

Week 3 – Go with the Flow

Why You Shouldn't Stop to find that *Perfect Word* | Have you ever been writing and stopped to try and figure out that one word you just can't remember? You actually shouldn't be! Here's a way to keep track of this place, so you can come back and edit it later. #writing #tips #perfect #word #words #writer #editing #rewriting

Today’s Goal:

  • Learn about what to do when you can’t find that word
  • Apply your new knowledge to your own writing

What happens when you can’t think of that word?

You stop and try to think of what it is.

The problem with this is, it stops your creative flow. It turns on the critical, analytical, editing side of your brain. Once you switch over, it disrupts your whole process. If you’re in the middle of an intense scene, or something important, or are seriously having trouble and need to just get past this… there goes your momentum.

Harry Potter 'Poof' GIF

So what should you do to keep this from happening?

Simple: don’t try to find your perfect word.

“But Julia!” you cry out. “It’s called the ‘perfect’ word for a reason! It describes what I want perfectly!”

Don’t worry, I’m getting to that. You’ll still get your perfect word… someday.

When you’re writing the first draft, or even rewriting, you should not stop to try and find the word. I will agree, sometimes the word is so close that I stop to think. Not my best writer choices, though. Instead, don’t follow my bad example, and instead type onward. 😛

There is a simple trick that I use to keep track of where my missing-perfect-word is. I cannot take the credit for thinking up this trick, though. One of my older sisters, Bella, told me about it.

When you don’t know what the word is, type ELEPHANT (yes, like that, in all caps) there instead. I personally like to type it out and then, in parentheses, add a small description to my future self about the word. (what it means, words I can currently think of that relate to it, what letter it starts with)

If you have Microsoft Word, this is actually extra helpful. On the top right-hand corner, there is a search bar.

search bar

If you type in a word to the search bar, the document will take you to the first one in the document. (I skipped my first one for taking a screenshot since it sort of contained spoilers)


The document highlights the word you type in bright yellow. To go to the next word in the document that’s this one (so you don’t have to scroll and possibly miss it) just hit that arrow pointing right in the search bar. You can see it in my screenshot above.


See? Easy!

The only flaw in this is that you might use the word elephant in your story. However, there’s another easy fix: pick a different word!  As long as you don’t use it too often in your book, it’ll be easy for you to find all of these places you wanted a perfect word when you edit.

Now it’s your turn!

The next time you want to find your perfect word in the middle of writing, try putting in your own special word. Seriously, this works. 😉

This series has been enjoyed very much so far, and it’s going to be over soon enough. If you’ve liked all these posts, click here and make sure that you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the last ones! The best is yet to come!

Do you ever struggle to find that *perfect* word?

What word would you use as a placeholder?

And did you like the Harry Potter GIF?! (I’ve been using GIFs more, as you can see)


Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

12 thoughts on “Things I’ve Learned from NaNoWriMo: That Perfect Word

  1. AAAAAAAAAACK. The perfect words always eludes me! It is actually rather painful, to sit there racking your brain without being able to grasp it.
    I have nightmares of those times *eye twitches*
    Interesting post Julia! (and yezzz use more of the gif things ;D )


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