Speak Softly

“I think I could pick out the best writers in a strange city room by those who write with their lips moving.”

Don Murray

Here’s a simple technique I’ve been playing with: Reading your words aloud or mouthing them as you are actually writing them down. This approach is working well for me, so I want to pass it on. I first came across this “tool” when I read Edna Ferber’s autobiography, A Peculiar Treasure. According to Edna, “You should hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken.”

Edna was a prolific and genre-jumping writer: She wrote short stories, novels, and several hit plays still widely performed today. One of her best-known works, Showboat, was the inspiration for the groundbreaking musical by the same name. But before she became a popular writer and eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for So Big, Edna was a journalist. She started out on a small paper, The Appleton Crescent, as a teenager.

In describing her reporting days, Edna said that she and another reporter shared an unusual writing habit: They would “talk” their stories as they were typing them. (See Writing Aloud). This really caught my attention, because we hear a lot about reading our drafts aloud once they’re finished, but I’d never really thought of reading my words aloud in the moment, as I was writing them.

I’ve started working with this technique and it’s really having an impact: It’s making my words and sentences flow more naturally and rhythmically, which is exactly what I want. It also instantly highlights awkward phrasings, allowing me to eliminate them by rewriting them right away. I’ve also found that it alerts me to repetitive sentence constructions. The big payoff: Adopting this approach leads to a more polished draft.

I’m going to really focus on paying attention to this with the goal of turning it into a habit. If I practice this technique consistently, I believe it will become second nature and sharpen my writing style. Why not try it yourself and see if it works for you? It’s simple, but powerful. Write on!




About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply