Is it true that those who can’t speak, write?

We’ve all heard the expression “those who can’t do, teach”. That got me thinking about writers, and more specifically about why we write. I want to open this post by asking if any of my fellow writers out there have issues with speaking?

All through my childhood I had a slight lisp, a tendency to stammer when nervous, and a problem with diction because of an injury to my tongue. Most of the time I avoided speaking because I found that I was never able to communicate my ideas successfully. I was also one of those people who could never think of something to say. I never liked getting involved in debates because I wouldn’t be able to think of an appropriate comeback until days later, and by that point it was useless. Writing offered me a method of communication which wasn’t dependent on my speaking ability, so I think that was one of the things that first appealed to me.

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The stresses of speaking

How about you? Do you have any speech problems? If so, do you think that it was one of the things that first got you interested in writing? Do you think that having a problem with speaking can help writers?

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Exercise of the Day: Freewrite
Write for 5 to 10 minutes without editing using this as your starting point.
“Some say that absence makes the heart grow fonder but it doesn’t. Absence makes the heart grow numb.”

To make things more interesting, after you’ve done your freewrite pass on what you’ve written to someone else and have them continue the story. This is another version of a game we used to play in my creative writing class called “writer’s tennis”. Have fun!! I will see you around!!

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24 Comments

Filed under Books, Creative, Creative writing, Fiction, Journalism, Literature, Nanowrimo, Novel Writing, Novels, Playwriting, Screenwriting, Uncategorlzed, Writing, writing prompt, writing tips

24 responses to “Is it true that those who can’t speak, write?

  1. I can certainly relate. It’s so much easier for me to write than to speak.

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    • In recent years I have improved on my diction, but I still have certain problems. I have problems with my “metal filter” so at times I can’t control what I say. Because of that little situation I just keep my mouth shut so I don’t say anything inappropriate at work. I like talking, but if my filter slips while I’m at work? Uh oh!!! Thanks for responding

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  2. I believe that many writers are people who find it easier to put their thoughts down on paper than speak them out loud. This could be through shyness or some speech defect – lisp or otherwise. You have openly, and bravely, described your own problems, and as a retired teacher, I have taught many young people who have problems with speaking out in class. Writing is an outlet for them. It allows time for the necessary structured thought that shy or otherwise self-conscious people can’t do in front of others, Panic takes over and they clam up.
    I was one of those painfully shy children myself, many moons ago, so I know how it goes. And yes, being shy did get me interested in writing stories and creating characters I loved / hated. Unfortunately, family and professional life meant that I had to wait until I retired to start writing ‘properly’. Now I’m working on my third book,
    Thank you for the thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though I have improved my problems with speech therapy and vocal exercises I still find that I am more comfortable with the written word. Thanks for responding, and best of luck on your book!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Two of my sons had speech therapy when they were young, but they seemed to grow out of the problem. It was quite strange that two of them should have the same problem. They just couldn’t pronounce certain sounds, so it was difficult for people to understand them. This made both very self-conscious in front of other children. By six, they were both OK, thank goodness.
        Thank you for your kind wishes about my books.

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  3. I did not realise it as a child/teen but I had terrible social anxiety due to many factors. I have always been far more verbose and expressive on paper then I could ever be in person. Even though I have a much stronger ability to speak these days I still find I am more expressive on paper. I do wonder if I had had more ease with showing who I was when I was young if I would be writing now. However, it’s not really worth considering because the past is the past. It is as it is.

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    • I totally agree!!! None of us can change the past. All we can do is to learn from our mistakes and move on. I am really just wondering how my past communication problems influenced the way I communicate now. I still have problems that no speech therapy can fix, but I am not going to waste my time complaining about it. I’m just going to deal with it and move on. Thanks for taking the time to read/respond.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was a child I had a lisp. It wasn’t a really acute one, I think, and one or two semesters (did we have semesters in elementary school?) with the speech teacher helped me. All she had to do was tell me where to place my tongue when I said my essssses. It got me out of music class which was boring to me so win-win. As a non-fiction author mainly, I give lots presentations and speeches – I’ve been on TV many times – and at first I was nervous, but then I thought of it in a unique way. I considered public speaking as an extension of my writing. It was just a different way to convey what I wanted people to know. I was confident in my writing so it carried over to my speaking. Since then, speaking in public has been easy. I hope my story about a way to look at speaking helps some authors.

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    • Well my speech problems weren’t too severe when I was younger, but when I was 18 I was in a car crash. During the crash I bit my tongue which made my diction problems worse. It has taken years but I have gotten much better. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond!! I really appreciate it

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  5. I definitely communicate much clearer using the written word! It depends on the situation when it comes to speaking. If I have to do a presentation I’ve prepared or training, I’m competent; but if it’s a meeting for example, and I have a comment to make – I’m not always as articulate as I should be. I’m sure others find it frustrating, as I do – especially when people know you for your ability to communicate so well by writing or in prepared situations. I’ve actually just noticed this about myself, and I think I need to just speak slower because I feel like I’m sometimes trying to get out all the thoughts in my head quickly, and I end up getting tongue-tied!

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    • Even if I prepare for a presentation, I still find myself getting tongue tied. That’s why I used to do tongue twisters, and that was one of the reasons I started performing with my drama club. We were doing Shakespeare and when you do that there is a specific pronunciation pattern you need to follow so that the audience can understand what you’re saying. I still use the vocal and pronunciation exercises we used to do before scenes. 🙂

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  6. A couple of days ago, I said goodbye to a dear friend who is moving across country. I felt completely stupid and tongue-tied trying to tell her goodbye, and even as we were hugging I was thinking, “I need to write something for her so she knows how I feel!” So YES. I’ve never experienced speech difficulties like a lisp or stammer, but I like to think through my words carefully before putting them out in the world. As a chronic overthinker, I like to ponder my responses before issuing them.

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    • I agree!! I like taking the time to contemplate everything I say so that I always say what I mean, but in some cases there is no time. Writing takes more patience, but it offers the chance to plan and to analyze the implications of what I say.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have never thought about this, but I wonder if having difficulty speaking makes a person more introspective and gives that person more insight. Sounds like a recipe for good writing.

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    • Well I can’t really say that my speaking issues gave me what I needed to be a better writer but I suppose it made me put more thought into whatever I happened to be writing. Since I knew that I would never be able to have put my thoughts into psychical words my mind may have compensated by forcing me to focus my concentration onto my writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Looking at the literary world, the number of writers who don’t speak much seem to be a tiny publicity-shy minority. I don’t see any evidence of a link between writing and an inability to speak.

    And I would hope that the phrase ‘those who can’t speak, write’ doesn’t catch on. Writers have enough put downs thrown at them as it is.
    Chris

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  9. Two months ago, I gave a presentation at a conference, last week at a regulatory board, and next week at another conference. I used to be terrified by public speaking. Anymore, I don’t like it, but it’s no longer terrifying. That said, those things are technical, and I’m “an expert” on the topic, and so dealing with questions or even criticism isn’t really an issue. I really and truly know more than my audience (small comfort, but I cling to it) However, when it comes to feelings and the sort of things that come out of creative thinking, I am a Norwegian bachelor farmer. I can’t FORCE those things from my mouth. They have to come through on paper. While I might write a love poem for my wife, I certainly couldn’t recite one for her. Just can’t do it. So yeah, I suppose I do write because I can’t speak.

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    • For me, whenever I have to give a oral presentation it feels unnatural. Even when I plan out every single word the act of speaking those words is so difficult. There seems to be a sort of disconnect between my brain and mouth so writing offers a more efficient way for me to communicate.

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  10. Speaking is a huge part of my job so it comes naturally, perhaps more so than writing. But a confident speaker doesn’t mean a good listener and that’s improved with writing.

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  11. TimeDancer

    I have to concur with your assumption, honestly. As a child and even now, I have an extremely hard time communicating, especially when I am upset. I love writing and once I have a pen and paper or my fingers at the ready on my keyboard keys, I can say anything. The problem is with speaking to actual people. I have learned better communication skills over time out of necessity, but even so, they are nowhere near flawless. I work as a cashier when I’m not writing, and honestly it’s hard sometimes due to my lack of communication skills. The less easy going people make me nervous and therefore I end up stuttering, saying the wrong thing, etc. This is less likely to happen though around people I’m comfortable with, unless they are in a foul mood, etc. So in short, I can completely relate!

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    • I completely understand your work problems. I work in retail sales so 100% of my day is spent talking to strangers. Besides my previous speech problems (a slight lisp and stutter which I’ve improved upon) my “mental filter” is a bit off. The part of my brain which tells me what is appropriate to say in certain situations is faulty so I don’t speak as much as I would like. When I get a pen or keyboard I feel liberated from the stresses of public speaking

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  12. I never had a hard time talking to people. Quite the opposite. Although I did have a bit of a lisp, and people had/have a tendency to ignore me when I talk. Writing was very hard. Perhaps I became a writer out of sheer stubbornness, I’m not sure. Writing always seemed a more solid method of communication than talking to me. Not better but different. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It was a great post.

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