How to Stop Writing Mediocre Words: 186 Better Ways to Say “Great”
How often do you toss the word “great” into a sentence, without really thinking about it?
A great product, great service, great opportunity… yadda, yadda, yadda.
“Great” is the written equivalent of toast with butter. It’s familiar and it feels like you’re adding something to the plate, but there’s almost no taste to it. I’m not saying it doesn’t serve a purpose sometimes. But most often, it’s just taking up space.
Question: When you see the word “great” do YOU feel anything emotionally? Do you become more interested in that product, service, or opportunity, simply because the writer described it as “great”?
I’m guessing your answer is NO.
“Great” isn’t great, it’s mediocre.
So why do writers, including myself, keep relying on dull, over-used words? Obviously, none of us strive to be mediocre, so what’s the problem?
Why Writing Mediocre Words is a THING
I think it’s about rushing, and the inherent carelessness that goes with trying to finish things too quickly.
Common words like “great” are front-of-mind, so they readily slide from brain to fingertips. That’s okay during the first-draft phase, when the goal is just to get words onto the page. But those bland words should be weeded out as we edit and polish our work.
Therein lies the issue. In the rush to meet a deadline, please a client, or just drag something across an imaginary finish line, we get slack about editing. We find time to ponder keywords, headlines, and images, but we don’t give ourselves enough time to play with the words.
The good news is that the human brain is full of meaty, delicious words. Studies show that most adults know at least 42,000 words. The problem is that we don’t use them all.
Instead, we rely on the same ones, over and over, because we feel comfortable with them. They’re familiar (like buttered toast). This is called our active vocabulary.
Less common words and expressions, including tons of words that are bursting with personality, get relegated to our passive vocabulary. We stick them there because we’re not as confident about using them – and the longer we go without using them, the easier they become to ignore.
The good news is that all those glorious, amazing words are still alive and kicking! They’re just sitting in passive vocabulary prison, waiting to be set free.
As an experiment, I set a timer for 20 minutes and brainstormed better ways to say “great”. In that short amount of time, without looking online, I pulled 186 options out of my brain. Truth: I came up with 217 but some of them weren’t that great (ha ha). So, here’s my list:
186 definitely-not-mediocre words that could replace “great”
- Beyond belief
- Out of sight
- Out of this world
- Over the top
I was shocked by how many better ways to say “great” were locked inside my brain. 186 sensational words were just waiting for a chance to jump into my active vocabulary.
All I needed to do was give myself time to think.
That’s the secret… TIME. If you want to stop writing mediocre words, you must give yourself time to play with that first draft.
I’m sure your brain is stuffed full of words, just like mine. So take a few deep breaths and slow down long enough to sort through them. Don’t settle for “great” when you could be phenomenal!