Day 11: Writing with Dyslexia

Yesterday, I posted this on Twitter:

I wrote this in order to remind myself (and anyone reading) that dyslexics can, indeed, write. Does that mean that it is easy? Nope. After years of writing and practice, has it gotten any easier? Not really.

So, what is it like writing with dyslexia?

It is different.

I can’t just sit down and start writing. In order to write, I have to spend some time thinking about what I want to say. But I can’t just write what I say – that is not how writing works. You have to develop a “writing voice.” It takes a lot of effort to develop a “writing voice.” But once you have it, you can think in that voice and smooth out the writing process.

When I write in my normal voice, my writing comes across as clunky and, frankly, messy. There is a certain order and style that is unique to writing.

Once I have thought about what I want to say in my writing voice, there is the issue of actually writing. Handwriting is tough. It takes a lot of mental energy to do it. So I prefer to type.

Typing is much easier.

Over time, I have developed muscle memory. I know which keys I am supposed to type for certain words. Unfortunately, a lot of the time I type them in the wrong order. Thank goodness for spellcheck!

I would not be able to type anything if it wasn’t for spell check! ALL HAIL SPELL CHECK!

Other times, I know the word I want to use, but I absolutely have no idea how to start it. This is incredibly frustrating. I usually handle this by opening brackets <<<<<describing the word that I want to use and then closing the brackets>>>>>. This is my visual cue that I need to ask someone to help me. Because if you can’t type it on your document, you can’t type it on google.

What about dictation?

Using dictation software is a skill unto itself. Then there is the issue that it is very difficult to dictate while you sit in a coffee shop. I am an extrovert. I need to be around people. It is also how I am helping myself create a writing habit. Doing a dissertation is a rather lonely process. So I spend time in many public places working. Being in a public place means no dictation.

Also, I am Mexican – and I have an accent. So, dictation works as long as my pronunciation is conventional. Which is not too often. Still, dictation is very helpful when I just want to just something down without thinking too much about it.

Editing is hard.

While most people can just read over their work, I need to use text-to-speech. Most of the time, after I listen to my words I realize that they are not as eloquent or clear. So I have to go back and change things. This presents a few challenges:

  • You have to stop the text-to-speech, which takes a little time and if you listen to something new you might forget what you were thinking.
  • You have to go find the place were you have to edit. I try to follow along, but finding the right spot to edit requires work.
  • You make edits as you can. And then have to text-to-speech the section again.

After the general edits are done, when I catch organization and ideas, I have to look for style. Did I capitalize all the words? Is punctuation correct? It is all about the details. And it takes time.

Sharing my writing.

I am embarrassed to admit that I do not do the detail check until I am closer to the final draft. Some times my faculty want to see my progress. So I send over what I have. There are more mistakes there than I wish I had, but there is a limit to how much time I can spend editing.

Faculty have told me I need to pay attention. And I agree and play it off as English not being my first language. I have not yet told them I am dyslexic.

Now to celebrate Day 2 of #AcWriMo:


I am tracking my progress here.
Join me: 100 Day Challenge Tracking.

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