I just spent a few days with laryngitis. It got to the point where I referred to myself as ‘The Silent Writer.’ My communications with freelance clients were by text & email, as I tried to keep the croaking into the phone to a minimum.
Aside from the coughing fits—painful, body racking, and exhausting—and the general malaise it wasn’t too awful. But there was one strange side effect that got in the way of both freelance and fiction productivity: trying to avoid talking meant I had to avoid reading text out loud. This is something I always do before handing in an assignment, posting on my blog, and throughout the course of writing fiction and non-fiction. The sound of the words—in my own voice—is part of the first draft process. It’s also part of my final draft, and it’s a stop over/detour I take often along the way.
I’m not sure how this started, but reading text in my head as I write (something I’m doing right now with a throat lozenge in my mouth) is simply not enough. I have to HEAR the words. I catch typos; I finesse sentences; I rearrange thoughts—all due to hearing the words out loud.
This is particularly important when I’m writing dialog in fiction. I’m not the greatest actress on the planet, but I try to create voices for my characters through the use of particular vocabulary, hearing the words outside my brain helps me spot check the verbiage in regard to that character’s life, education, and personality. Just reading what I’ve written is clearly not enough.
This silent writer crossed her fingers when she sent a short, rush job assignment to a favorite client. I’d croaked out the words before I hit SEND, but I didn’t get the opportunity to hear the short, and very important, pitch the client asked me to draft.
When I read, I hear the words in my head, but writing…. It obviously needs more. Fellow readers and writers: are any of you reading out loud or are you ‘silent writers’?