Today I want to suggest a little program that will give you more verbal power. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while, and its working out pretty well.
Five days a week, I learn two new things. One of those things is a vocabulary word. The other is something else pretty much anything I don’t know but find interesting.
This week, for example, I’ve learned the meaning of anodyne, pellucid, garrote, bloodless, and labile. Anodyne was brand-new for me. The others I kind of knew, but not well enough to use. I also learned something new this week about Galileo that he recanted heliocentricism during the Inquisition and was banished to a Florentine farm for postulating it in the first place . . . something about small boats (Do you know the difference between a pulk and a yawl?) . . . the full story on Medusa (Pegasus was born out of her blood) . . . and that Katherine Ann Porters Pale Horse, Pale Rider was written in limpid (i.e. pellucid) prose.
It was fun, and I feel smarter (not much, admittedly) because of it. Here’s how I do it:
Sometime during my reading for the day, I usually bump into a word I don’t really know. I jot it down and then later look it up and enter it into a little notebook I keep on my bedside table. After making that entry, I consult one of any number of books I have references on history, art, curiosities, etc. for something that sounds interesting. I enter that as well.
So, each day I make two entries in my notebook: one word to build my vocabulary and one piece of information to increase my general knowledge. I also do a quick review of the prior days entries. And then most important I promise myself to use what I learned that day in an upcoming memo or conversation.
Each time I use one of my entries, I make a check mark in my notebook. When I’ve used it five times, I don’t have to review it again. It’s set for life.
To make sure it happens, I include this program as a highlighted item (important but not urgent) on my daily to-do list.
This may seem a bit much. (I’m almost embarrassed to admit I do it.) But the results are immediate and significant. You’ll see what I mean if you try it yourself.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]