HomecreativityThis Dyslexic’s Number One Writing Tool

The number one rule I’ve learned to follow for myself in writing is to ignore what actually shows up on screen when I’m writing the zero draft of whatever it is I’m creating.

Yes, we’ve reached Chatper Four.

As long as the words continue to flow, the bad stuff doesn’t matter. Poor spelling? Fix later. Repetitive sentences? Fix later. Stupid ideas? Fix later. Scenes that make no sense? Fix later.

As a result, I usually end up with a mass of horrible, with just enough awesome thrown in to create something that makes some sort of sense later on. I’m a relatively merciless self-editor, though mistakes do still make it through.

There are days I actually end up typing, or speaking when I use dictation software, with my eyes closed. Sure, it looks odd to a watcher, but if I let myself be endlessly distracted by my mistakes, the ideas will stall, and I won’t get anything done.

Of course, that doesn’t work if I’m writing something by hand. I’ve tried before, and the resulting page of scribbles was impossible to make sense of. My hand wanders as I write, and it takes too much effort to form letters properly while still letting the ideas flow, especially when I’m not feeling my best. Writing things by hand is reserved for when I’m feeling good and sitting out in nature or public somewhere.

There are days like yesterday that the closed eyes thing won’t do any good. Yesterday was a migraine day, with more dizziness than usual thrown in. I’m better today, but every time I made the mistake of looking at a bright light source yesterday, the fight was on to keep my last meal from swimming upstream. Sitting upright didn’t help much, either, and the pain did a great job of scaring my plot bunnies away.

Migraines. Evil.

Anyway, I’ve found that the biggest reason people immediately give up on trying to write something is a fear of not getting it “right”. They worry about word choice, their spelling or that their ideas aren’t original enough. In reality, none of that matters when you first start getting your ideas down. No one has to see that initial draft. In fact, you don’t have to show anyone anything until you’re confident enough in your work to ask for help.

Some handwritten writing exercises of mine. Maybe I’ll
turn them into something eventually.

I think that’s a huge problem in how timed essay tests and contests like the Iron Pen are carried out. Those of us with dyslexia don’t work well, if at all, when put under time constraints and shoved into a room with a bunch of other people. That’s just the way it is, and there’s not a thing we can do about it.

While it may seem as if once the essay or story is finished, we can leave the idea of timed work behind, that’s often not the case. Once we leave school, we’re often already poisoned with the notion that if we can’t get perfection, or near perfection, right away, there’s no use to even trying.

Unfortunately, that idea takes a long time to unlearn.

In reality, there’s no such thing as immediate perfection. Writing, like any other skill or art form, takes practice. Dyslexia, and other learning disabilities, may make the technicalities hard to handle, but the flexible thinking it often comes with can bring amazing stories to life.

Our writing may be full of more technical errors than someone who doesn’t share our wiring, but those errors can always be fixed somewhere down the line. In our case, the content is what counts.

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