Listen to the sound of your voice (and try not to puke)

I’ve always hated reading out loud. There’s something about trying to vocalize the words written on the page in front of me that always made me feel like I was failing horribly. I would stutter. I would skip words. I would lose my place on the page. Perhaps worst of all, I would rush through the entire thing, eager to be done, and in doing so thoroughly butcher the flow and melody of what I was reading.

You can imagine how I felt when I got to college, and my writing classes started to require that I read my own work out loud in front of the entire class.

Absolutely horrifying. My worst nightmare come true. Pretty much the end of the world.

But as most adults attempt to tell you, more often than not the best thing for you to do is the thing that scares you the most. That’s how you learn and grow as a person. So they say, anyway.

Well in this case it’s actually true. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve developed as a writer these past couple of years, it’s that reading your own work out loud is one of the best things you can do to make your work better. Not only that, it helps you gain a lot of confidence in your writing, compared to if you just kept everything to yourself all the time. Over the course of a single semester, I went from being unable to bear the thought of someone reading my work, to being completely comfortable with reading even my rough drafts out loud to an entire room full of people. Trust me, that kind of self-confidence will take you far as a writer.

Confidence aside, reading your work out loud is the best way to highlight mistakes and flaws in your writing. Take last night, for example. I had just printed out an early draft of my latest manuscript (currently untitled, but it’s a fantasy story centered around necromancy in a way that ought to remind readers of Garth Nix’s Sabriel) and decided to read it to myself out loud in the solitude of my room.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Reading the manuscript (which is still in the extreme rough draft stage) enabled me to get a feel for parts that didn’t flow well, or were outright unnecessary. It also enabled to me pick up on each and every typo that I had made, which is as embarrassing a process as it is rewarding.

Perhaps more importantly, reading my manuscript out loud gave me an appreciation for the parts that work well. This in turn helped renew my confidence in not only the developing story, but also myself as a writer. Trust me, if a sentence sounds good in your head, that’s great. But if it sounds good when read out loud, that’s amazing, and you should feel proud.

So, here’s to something amazing.

See you all next week!

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