Is Using a Thesaurus Cheating? (And other stupid thoughts.)

Is using a thesaurus cheating? (And other stupid thoughts.)

Sometimes I feel like I’m competing against everyone’s outside perceptions.

Here’s a stupid example. I went through a phase when I thought that good cooks never had to consult a cookbook. When I’m writing this now, I realize how stupid that sounds – as if someone who is an amateur cook for his family would naturally have accumulated every way of cooking known to man in one’s brain so he never needed input from others. It’s ridiculous, I know. But it was like I thought that a cookbook diminished how good my cooking was. It’s like I thought, “Anyone can follow a cookbook, so if I want to be better than anyone, I better not follow a cookbook.”

I remember once when I took this concept to extreme and I decided to make a cake from scratch and from my head. Yeah, stupid, I know. Well, I did it, and it tasted exactly how it should have tasted – bad!

Now what about writing. It’s cheating to use a thesaurus, right? I mean, every writer should already have the Oxford dictionary memorized. All good writers know all of the “literary” words, and we dare not admit that there might be a word we don’t know. It’s logical to think that a writer has such a fantastic memory that he or she can remember every word in the English language exactly at the time when a new sentence demands it.

Maybe there are those brilliant individuals out there, but I’m not one of them. Sometimes my brain feels like mush, and there is nothing but juvenile words jumping forth onto the page. Sometimes I need help. Sometimes I need a recipe to help remind me of the ingredients.

I’m tired of living and writing and cooking like I have to naturally be the best in every given situation. I am human. I need the help of others, and, after all, resources are there for our use. I can’t imagine another reason why a thesaurus exists except to give people additional words with the same meaning.

We need to stop insisting so much from others. We are all who we are, on a journey of discovery, and we all need to continue to learn and grow along the way. Let’s let each other do that, and let’s encourage each other to continue to grow.

I am now comfortable being myself, even if it means that I need to look at a recipe every now and then.


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