The Awesome Diet

good wordsWhen I was on my three cities in ten days whirlwind trip, sight seeing and snapping twenty pictures a minute—a snail’s pace by today’s standards—I was in a constant state of jaw-dropping, OH MY, can you believe how amazing, isn’t that great, how awesome, and often, awesome on it’s own. Lush and descriptive words expressing my wonderment did not roll off my tongue. I know. I still cringe thinking about it.

I’m not sure of the exact number of times I used that word, but If I were to calculate, I’d bet the ‘A’ word passed through my lips at least 783,431 times over the course of ten days.  On some level, the writer in me registered my limited use of her vocabulary. At first, she was subdued in her reprimands.

“Tsk, tsk,” followed by, “you’re shaming yourself. Try acutely brilliant or even brilliance unfurled. Just stop using the ‘A’ word.” 

I’d promise and then fall into a deep, zombie like sleep.  Come morning, three hours shy of a full nights sleep, I’d stagger to the tea kettle, boil some water, and three minutes later, slurp steamy instant coffee. The instant sort reminds me of the over boiled, watery like brown substance served in roadside dinners with names like Lou’s Lounge, Ma’s Best, or Gus’ Drive and Dunk, and tastes a lot like two-day old dish water. An elixir it is not, but a fix for caffeine it is.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hotel issued miniature sized tea cup, my eyes were open and the internal monologue I had had with my writer self the previous night was fresh in my mind.  I’d align myself with her and swear to stab myself with my Parker Starlight or any one of the colorful Sharpies if that word even thought about escaping.

Fifteen hours later, another 57,348 pictures, 4 maybe 5 miles walked (it always felt like 100), sights seen, conversations had, I’d crawl into bed.

“AWESOME!  How is it you call yourself a writer if all you can say is awesome?  Personally, I found the view from London Eye, nothing short of big band phenomenal. Extraordinarily Exceptional!  Yes, I’d add the exclamation point. Even bloody brilliant is preferable to your SINGLE word of choice. What happened to your vocabulary?  Did you leave it on the plane or perhaps in baggage claim? Awesome is so worn out, tired, even distasteful on the lips.”

The earplugs would go into my ears and the pillow went over my head.  Not that I could block her out since she owns the right side of my brain, half of the heart, and in a hostile take over, took the soul of me.   “Ok,” I’d mumble in my tiniest voice, and in seconds slip into a catatonic like stupor.

Day in day out, the nightly assaults grew in intensity as I failed miserably to break free of the word’s hold over me. I’d start the day with a killer like conviction to escape my one-word prison of description, but by the time my body melted into the mattress I’d have to plead exhaustion, sensory overload, mental fatigue, and then beg forgiveness for my breach of the writer’s code.  Gone was the tsk tsking. Her annoyance had graduated to land mind hostility. I’d have to step gingerly. I accepted my lashes almost gladly, wondering like she, where my appreciation for the exceptional word choice had gone.

On the train ride back from Paris the second to last day of my trip, I pondered my plight.  Would I return to the blank page with my limited lexicon, and fall to the mundane and usual intensifiers of single cell life form, such as: So great! Really nice. Totally cool, or worse, It was soooooo cool!!!  (It’s not much, but on first sight, the Eiffel Tower is supremely spectacular!)IMG_1018

I vowed to eradicate the ‘A’ word from my vocabulary.  Being the understanding taskmaster, vixen, Attila the Hun, she is, and knowing I am no good at going cold turkey, we struck an accord. She put me on an awesome diet.  The ‘A’ word could remain provided I never use it my writing unless it’s used by a character with limited story exposure or said persona is severely flawed (see what I mean about her being a vixen) and I’m not to use the word more than 4 times a month.

How about you is there a word you over use, but wish you didn’t? Is there one that slips through your lips a full four seconds before you know it’s assaulted your listener?  Share, come on, we’re all friends here. 

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by

I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

50 thoughts on “The Awesome Diet

  1. Delightful post! Whoops, there’s my word. Delightful, delightful, delightful. I need to banish it from my brain…But truly, you pegged it how one word can really dominate and seems to take on a life of its own! Hmmm, let’s try stellar. Yes, this post was stellar – thanks!

  2. I loved this, and s-o-o-o-o-o relate to it. I’ve had the same kinds of discussions with myself, saying: You call yourself a writer and all you can think to say are overused words like “great,” or “wonderful” or “awesome” when describing something, or even commenting on blogs. Take the time to describe this accurately or don’t say anything at all.

    But that’s the problem, taking the time, putting the mental muscles at work, when all I want at the moment is to express my great delight or enjoyment of something, knowing that others will know what I mean, even if perhaps not “exactly.”

    Then I think of how Einstein could never remember his phone number and considered such trivia not worth his time or effort. And I think, as writers we struggle with words all day long, finding the exact one to use in our work, where it matters most, and that’s how it should be. So maybe I should give myself a break, not strive to be brilliant when “awesome” will do in my daily dealings, or my quick blog comments, when all I want is to say, “this was great!” and leave it at that, because in a few moments when I’m back to the writing where the heavy lifting is needed I can exercise those mental muscles and come up with something more exact.
    Deborah J. Brasket recently posted….The Pieta and the Writer’s PaletteMy Profile

    • Deborah – I think, on my first serious note of the day, is we are all guilty with our speaking vocabulary, but hopefully, we take the extra care in our writing and favor the backspace key. And in all of our defense, writers before us did not blog or spend time commenting on other blogs all in the name of creating a platform. We do what we can with the time we have.

  3. Outstanding! That’s my overused piece of lexicon and I can do better to describe your post. I still remember the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower in my early ’20’s. I am still unable to adequately describe what I felt but I know I was speechless for quite a while (a rarity in my early ’20’s).
    Astra recently posted….Summer Camp by Numbers; Tuck Shop numbers, that is!My Profile

    • Astra, I’m not a big ‘outstanding’ sort of speaker. And thinking about it, I can’t recall using it (until a second ago) on the page, but I am no. As for Paris, damn, woman, I want to go back. NOW!

  4. Awhile back, I took “like” out of my diet, or tried to. That word sounds so much cooler coming out of an Irish person’s mouth, and they use it differently: “I went to the sea, like.”
    I say Awesome way too much, too. And “Nice.” You got a job? Nice! Ugh.
    Jessica Vealitzek recently posted….Meet: My Path Toward PublicationMy Profile

  5. Well, the word m*ther-f*cker seems to get many peoples’ panties in a twist. Why, I’m not sure, it certainly works for The Bloggess, but maybe it’s because I’m not her. So am trying to restrict it for formal business occasions only.

    I refuse to beat myself up over ANY crap that comes out of my mouth or down on paper, first draft. I rewrite EVERYTHING.

    Besides, there are worse words as your go-to than awesome. What if you had been overusing the word “orgasmic”?
    Beverly Diehl recently posted….Honeymoon Haven – or Anytime GetawayMy Profile

    • Bev, that’s the best one ever. I reserve that one for special cases. It’s my exclamation point for life’s more interesting moments.

  6. I use the word awesome, too, and won’t stop. Why? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. I do have a problem using the word “that,” though. “That” isn’t awesome. I must stop.

  7. Lol, Brenda! Once again, you have me in stitches.
    The word I overuse? “Jeepers!” Got it from my mom. It beats saying “s***” or “c**p” as far as not sounding offensive, and I certainly don’t ever use the word when writing. :)
    Oh, and the word “awesome”? I’ve SO tried to weed that one out of my vocabulary for good.
    Blessings, my friend!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….How Does Your Garden Grow?My Profile

  8. I toss out F-bombs like salt on popcorn. It is truly the most versatile word in the English language and my personal favorite. I cannot f*^cking think of a single f*^king sentence in which it doesn’t f*^cking apply. I relish it like chocolate sauce on ice cream. But while I allow it to run free in my mind, and often off my tongue, I use is extremely sparingly in my writing, lest some poor unsuspecting reader feel like they just got slammed in the face.
    injaynesworld recently posted….injaynesworld it’s “Father’s Day…”My Profile

    • Jayne – me, too. I’ve been carrying that word around since I my first job out of college. I’ve not ever used it in writing but that’s because I haven’t yet met a character who is prone to using it, but I think I need to.

  9. Fantastic. Fantastic. Fantastic. Too much. Don’t know why. But sometimes when you travel and a place is so fantastic (tongue in cheek) you aren’t using a superlative when you say awesome…it’s okay – you’re so distracted with those hundreds of thousands of photos and soaking it all in – that I say you let awesome flow to make room for the wordsmith skill you’ll display as you write about it later.
    Barbara recently posted….a shy downward glanceMy Profile

    • Barbara, I have to say, fantastic is not on repeat in my tool kit. As for traveling and being a blithering idiot, that was me. Everything awesome, amazing, and even fantastic.

  10. Dawn brazil

    That is hilarious! Yes, I have found myself uttering a word repeatedly and even had my characters doing it. Grrrr. It’s frustrating but everybody does it at some point. The fact that we recognize it is good.

  11. I think we’re all guilty of this, Brenda. I tend to use awesome and amazing a lot. But frankly, not everything can be amazing and awesome, can it? We’d go crazy were that true. Into overload, hyper-drive. Oh, what the heck: that would be so awesome! 😉
    monicastangledweb recently posted….Fab Five Stories I TreasureMy Profile

  12. Kim

    This is awesome! Sorry, awesome happens to be my word too. I’m fairly certain there are other words I use in excess but awesome ranks high. When I leave comments on photos on Flickr (since, perhaps obviously, I am also a photographer) I almost invariably use the word awesome. It gets ridiculous after awhile. I do catch myself every so often and look for a more suitable word on the days when I am commenting entirely uncaffeinated it’s the only word I can think of. Yea, I need a word diet too.
    Kim recently posted….The Guardian Angel of Route 66My Profile

    • Ha! Ha! Kim. It’s an easy fall back word, yes? I have one friend whose speaking vocab makes me weep. He’d never resort to using awesome.

    • Lauren – we’re all guilty of it when speaking. I can’t truly see myself standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower saying, ‘Brillance unfurled.” But I’m sure people do.

  13. Kat

    Awesome, cool, “kinda,” using “like” and then flailing about like mad or making noises that do not remotely resemble words…I feel like I had a better working vocabularly, especially off the cuff, when I was a homeschooled child. Now I feel like my speaking vocabulary is very limited. If I have time to think about it, I can usually come up with something better, but on spur of the moment…not so much.

    • Hey Kat, I have a richer vocab on the page, honestly, as well. I like words and want to use them, but they don’ easily roll off my tongue or feel natural to me when speaking. I suppose it depends on the situation I’m in.. maybe.

        • Kat – I half agree. I agree it’s more honest, clean, and written from the heart. However, once written, it’s permanent. This can be a great, and in some cases, awful. Just depends on the message, it’s intent, and to whom the message is sent. :-)

  14. Cool, awesome, and the house favorite “ducking witch” sometimes “son-of-a ducking witch” usually reserved for especially heinous auto offenses. I think we all fall into the habitual use of certain words.
    I’m with Kat, it takes a lot of time for me to process new experiences so I have a difficult time speaking in the moment. When I’m writing, specifically, I need to be typing, I’m able to find my words and voice. Otherwise, I’m a blithering idiot.
    Lynne Favreau recently posted….Our Relay for Life TeamMy Profile

    • Ok, Lynne, that’s a first for me. I like the add of ‘witch’ in the end. Like most writers, my eyes and nose are always in the Thesaurus.

  15. Great post, Brenda! My favorite fallback word is “Wow.” Often when I’m either bowled over by a sight or by something another person has said, all I can think to say is “Wow.”

    I can also totally relate to “OMG!” “Awesome!” “Amazing!” “Incredible!” The challenge for me as a writer is to move beyond those first impression words to describe the experience that caused me to say them in the first place.
    Nancy recently posted….Lavender Festival at Pelindaba FarmMy Profile

    • Nancy, wow is another go-to word. I don’t actually say OMG, but I am guilty of texting it. I am grateful for the backspace key.

  16. Saw the Eiffel Tower and had to stop. Brilliant post and so true! Awesome and Amazing are my instant gratification, though my Thesaurus also suggests Breathtaking, Magnificent, Stirring, and Stunning. I’m a “re-writer,” which allows me to correct overuse. I know you journal where it would show up like a stick in your eye. Miss you much! But marketing my book has me on an AWESOME journey. :) lol

    • Nancy, isn’t it spectacular? Clearly ‘awesome’ is a fav of mine. So happy for you. Enjoy your journey, my virtual friend.

    • Kim, that’s the point, we’re all guilty to then power of ten. I don’t truly lose sleep over it, but I have fun writing about my foibles.

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