Back when I was a fanfic n00b writing my first story, I kept a thesaurus close by so that rather than repeating the same words over and over again, I could "spice up" my writing with bigger and better adjectives. After my first couple of fics, I stopped using a thesaurus altogether. I read (probably here in the forums or in an e-mail) that a writer should speak with his/her natural voice and not use words nor normally in his/her vocabulary. In the time since then I've read more than a few fics where it seems the author (not pointing any fingers here) obviously used a thesaurus at least twice a paragraph and my opinion against using (or more specifically, over-using) a thesaurus has been cemented. I'm sure we've all run into this at least once or twice. So what's the general opinion here on using a thesaurus? For those who use one, how often do you refer to it? For those who don't, why not? Do you believe the use of a reference tool like a thesaurus can help a writer grow and expand his/her vocabulary, or is it a crutch that, by its ease of use, prevent the writer from becoming better?