Tips to Improve Writing (#4 – Avoid Repetitive Words)

Tip #4: Avoid Repetitive Words like the Plague

If you’ve landed here at Vanilla Grass for the first time, this post is part of a bi-weekly series, and this week’s Tips to Improve Writing (#4 – Avoid Repetitive Words), begins with an example. Check out the following paragraph for repetitive word use.

When you use a word in a sentence once, that’s fine. But when you use that same word in the next sentence and then the same word or phrase in another sentence or even the same sentence, your reader will struggle to read each sentence.

Did you get tired of reading the same word and sentence? I did. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves as a reader. Reading the same word over and over pulls my head out of the story, and I get fixated. Maybe that’s because I have ADHD (if you do too, check out this post about writing with ADHD), or maybe it’s equally annoying for everyone else. Regardless, repetitive words in your writing show you’re not paying enough attention to add variety.

3 Ways to Tell if You’re Using Repetitive Words

Avoid repetitive words by reading out loud
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
  1. While you may not catch repetitive words in your own writing, hearing your writing aloud can help. Try reading to yourself, adding your words to an online text-to-speech program, or ask a peer to read your work to you.
  2. You can also use the handy “find and replace” tool and search for words for which you know you have a weakness (“just” and “suddenly” are common culprits). Most writing platforms, including Microsoft Word and Google Docs have this handy feature.
  3. Some writing software like Grammarly can also point these words out. (This is what I use).

How to Improve Your Writing Once You’ve found Repetitive Words

Avoid Repetitive Words
Destroy them! Photo by Maria Pop from Pexels

Once you’ve found your repeating words, throw them into an online thesaurus. My go-to resource is One Look.

If I can’t find an easy replacement, then I often rewrite sentences or paragraphs to eliminate repetitious words (have you noticed that I started using alternatives to repetitive in this section?).

Once you’ve mastered this skill, you can move on to more. We hope you’ve enjoyed Tips to Improve Writing (#4 – Avoid Repetitive Words). You can view numbers three, two, and one, and come back for more tips and articles from Vanilla Grass.

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