To Speak or Not to Speak: That is the Question

I much prefer to write my thoughts than to speak them. Perhaps this is why I write.

The tragic irony is that writers must, in fact, be strong speakers too. There’s no getting around it. Here’s why.


1. As writers, we know our characters intimately – in our mind. This is often very different from the way their words translate out loud. Dialogue that feels real and clever on paper might (and often does) sound trite and choppy when spoken. A writer needs to let their characters breathe…and speak.

2. When we write words on paper, our proofreading can be compromised by moving too rapidly over sentences and missing grammar and spelling errors. Reading work out loud, however, forces the brain to slow down and allows us to proofread with our ears. Often, we will hear an error that we don’t see.

3. Finally, as further proof that no good deed goes unpunished, if you are lucky enough to get your work published, the world will reward you with a book reading. Yes, you will slave away in sheltered seclusion putting your words on paper and agonizing over every detail only to be rewarded with a crowded room of avid readers waiting for you to stand front and center in front of a microphone and read your work!

Make Reading Out Loud Fun

The moral of this story is to couple reading with writing from a young age, even if children find it uncomfortable at first. When your child writes a story and asks you to read it, try asking him to read it to you first. As part of their proofreading of academic papers, have them read it out loud.

If you face resistance to reading out loud, make it fun. Read the story in a British accent or in a low, deep voice. Play with the words and let them take on a life of their own. Writing was meant to be shared…and spoken. Help your child bridge this gap between the written word and the spoken word.

It is naïve to think that what we write will only be read. It will also be spoken. So as painful as it may be for introverted writers like myself, we need to resign ourselves to public speaking as well. Getting an early start will make it less daunting.

How do your kids feel about reading out loud and sharing their written work?

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