Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Talking Writer

Firstly, I want to say congratulations to one of my students, Rosemary Wells, who won first prize in the poetry section of her local Arts Festival competition. Of course, as her non-fiction tutor, I had absolutely nothing to do with her poetry success, but every success is a success and one that should be shared, so well done Rosemary. And believe it or not, the trophy she's clutching here in this picture is the first trophy she's ever won, so I hope she puts it somewhere prominent on her mantle piece and points it out to everyone who walks into her home!

This posting is a little later than usual because for the past week I've been proofreading. I was approached to produce a Proofreading & Copy Editing correspondence course, which was great fun to do, although last week I must admit the fun element certainly wasn't there. It wasn't until I started proofreading, that I suddenly realised the implications of missing an error on a Proofreading & Copy Editing course! Talk about making my eyes go funny as I scrutinised every word!

And this is the problem with our work. We can read and re-read our work until we're blue in the face, and convince ourselves that it is perfect. And then four months later, when the editor rejects it, you read through the piece again and suddenly 3 more errors will jump out at you!

Many of my students will have read my advice in their assignment feedback, which is to read your work out aloud. Now it makes the neighbours think that you've gone completely doolally, talking to yourself, but it has it's benefits.

If you just read through your text, your eyes will 'see' what you THOUGHT you had written, not what you have 'ACTUALLY' written. This means that your eyes tend to gloss over any errors. Whereas, if you read work out aloud, you use a different part of the brain in order to say the words, so you stand more chance of actually 'hearing' what you've written.

Speaking text takes time, so you read more slowly than you do when reading with just your eyes.

Proofreading by talking also picks up those parts in your text where sentences are too long, or where there are complete words missing and they don't make sense. It can help you with your punctuation, whilst also picking up those words or phrases that you repeat without realising!

So next time you finish a manuscript, don't put it in an envelope just yet. Put it aside for a couple of days and then when you do come back to it, find yourself a quiet room and read your work out aloud. Your friends and family may think you've gone mad, but the editor at the receiving end of your submission won't know that!

Becoming a talking writer can also make you an error-free writer!

Good luck.


  1. Yes, but my husband gets sick of me mumbling for hours to myself! Kind regards, Carole.

  2. Nothing phases my neighbours anymore. They're quite used to seeing me wandering around mumbling to myself, ansd that's nothing to do with my writing! Julie.

  3. "...but it has it's benefits."

    Was that apostrophe in there just to test us...?