I was reading my ADHD blog post today, considering whether to send it to a friend, and it was surprisingly hard for me to bring myself to. I realized I was embarrassed at the voice, the phrasing, the lack of beauty in the individual words, all of which is something I paid relatively little attention to before – and which my friend, who also writes, will definitely notice.
It’s something I’ve paid less attention to than I should. “Writing is thinking” is my philosophy, and I have tons of thoughts that I know other people are interested in. Shouldn’t the structure of the thoughts, both the logical structure and the order in which they’re presented, be more important than voice? And I still believe they are – and yet voice does still matter.
I know this deficit has frustrated many of my writing friends. They know that when it comes to it, I can produce English with good voice, with solid and compelling rhetoric even. They know that because when I talk, especially when I’m passionate about a topic, or excited about the conversation, it comes out much smoother than when I write, much more poetic. How can this be, when I have more time to plan writing? How have I not leveraged my deeply cultivated conversational skills to be a better writer? How do these fluent spoken conversations and stilted written phrasings exist in the same person?
Perhaps it’s because when I’m writing, I’m using all of this extra planning ability for something besides voice, perhaps even contradictory to it. But am I even achieving … whatever this other thing is? Or am I simply overbaking all my statements with my focus on clarity and good structure, with no upside, letting my sentences sit for too long under my skeptical eye until they’re purified not only of any confusion and complexity but also any character?
Whatever the problem, my speaking remains unaffected. I could leverage this. There are so many YouTubers, so many podcasters… I might be better off doing one of those things, leaning on my natural (or at least far better cultivated) conversational tone, or my natural instructional, professorial voice, rather than my artificial, too in-the-head, downright overbaked writing style.
Or maybe I should just bite the bullet and do what multiple people have now recommended: the awfully intimidating and high-executive-function task of figuring out a sound recording workflow, where I speak what I want to write, and then listen and type it up. This might just work, as long as I’m okay with more organizational complexity, more phases of work in between outline and draft, and even more steps before a project can finally be deemed finished – if such a state is ever possible.
In any case, I’m committed to writing. I’m committed to continuing this blog, writing fiction, and finishing other on-going (secret!) writing projects. Ideally, I wouldn’t have to talk first and then write. Ideally, I could just sit down and words would flow through my fingers as naturally and as artfully as they come out of my mouth.
I don’t have an easy solution. I’ll continue to pay attention, both to my voice and other people’s, and read advice – and I even plan on doing the voice-recording thing at some point, if only just to try it. But most importantly of all, I think I just need a ton of more practice, more low-stakes writing, and simply much more raw volume.
To this end, I’ve decided to commit to writing at least one writing prompt from 300 Writing Prompts daily, a journaling prompt book given to me a while ago by a dear friend. When I first got this book, I was confused, because the prompts in there don’t seem designed to lead to stories or writing ideas. But for raw writing practice, they’ll be perfect. And perhaps by communicating in yet another medium – the hand-written word, instead of the spoken or the typed – I will be able to develop more fluidity in all of the media through which words can be delivered.
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