Take a word that seems current to you: fox, or chase, or November, or ash, or drink, or because, or whatever, or no, or nail, or index. Choose something new, emerging, fresh. Probably not something you’ve dealt with before.
Then, do some research on that word. Look it up in all six dictionaries you own (you do own six dictionaries, I assume?), look it up in a thesaurus, look it up in dictionaries of foreign languages, in an etymological dictionary, in the glossary of specialist reference works, in an encyclopedia, on Wikipedia. Google it. Take a page of notes (a page, no more – it’s okay, you can write really small if you have to).
That could go on forever, so ration yourself. It can be good to place a time limit on your brainstorming, e.g., fifteen minutes. (You can do more, but a short, sharp hit of looking can be effective for clarifying the thought process and enlivening your instincts.)
Then: without referring to those references again, and only using your page of notes, write a page about that word, or embodying that word, but without using that word. Prose, poetry, what you will. Just don’t use your chosen word, or variations thereof, at all.
Continue at your leisure.
Friday Writing Experiment No. 59: Words Words Words uses generated words in a particular way where this delving into word history might become relevant. And you can also apply this process specifically to your revising: Friday Writing Experiment No. 60: Word Power.
PS Yes, we took a week off last week. Because we can. It’s not the Every Friday Writing Experiment.