4

I understand that many great writers of the past had dyslexia, so it's obvious to me that these writers were able to overcome their disorder. But with me, it seems like my dyslexia has done nothing good in my quest to become a better writer. I am currently a Junior in Highschool, and my mother is a writer and librarian in a public library near by, because of this I am told countless of times,"to become a good writer you must read!" I wish I could. I imagine myself in a chair reading a hundred books a day in a comfortable fancy house in the middle of no where. I really do want to read, I wish I had that drive that so many other have, and I certainly don't want to be labeled as one of those, 'Malineal illiterate Wannabe's.'

Ever sense I was a kid I made a conscience effort to put as much space between myself and books as possible, I hated them and no one knew why, however I did love music/film/animation/and oral story telling. It wasn't until this year that my parents and I acknowledged the fact that something wasn't right with me. I am slow reader and an awful test taker. When I read I get stressful head and stomach aches. 10 minutes feels like a whole hour, as I loose concentration with every bleeding second I read a book. During tests, Anxiety and fear control me, and I often go blank, wondering why I can't solve 18 - 26. So it wasn't until I wanted to improve my writing that I found out I had dyslexia, which has explained a lot. The SAT is coming up in october, I need to do as good as possible on it. The stress is building. I know I am a relatively smart kid, with a 3.8 GPA, but the American exam system leaves people like me at a huge disadvantage.

I think the greatest fear I have in this entire world would be to grow old and die without bringing my ideas to life, and because I do not read other people's stories my own stories will never be as good as they should. I need help.

  • 1
    The tag "dyslexia" didn't exist until now - I added it in because I think it's a worthwhile tag to have as something that writers legitimately struggle with. You need 150 reputation to add new tags - doesn't matter what the tag is - so it wasn't specifically keeping you from using that one tag. – DoWhileNot Aug 2 '16 at 2:54
  • 2
    I'm a dyslexic author, I don't read millions of books a year, and any time you want to chat about it or otherwise discuss taking the same steps I did, reach out. Adam.Dreece@ADZOPublishing.com – Adam Dreece Aug 2 '16 at 18:33
4

There's a couple of things I'd like to address in your post, but before that I want to say this:

Having dyslexia or any other 'disorder' does not mean you can't, or shouldn't, do what you want to do. You aren't alone, there are plenty of (quite successful) authors out there who have had all sorts of issues. If you enjoy writing, then write. The only way to get better at storytelling is by telling stories. Don't compare your works to others, look at it from angle of "is this the story I wanted to tell? Have I told it how I wanted to tell it?"

On to your actual post, though, first up is this bit:

I am currently a Junior in Highschool, and my mother is a writer and librarian in a public library near by, because of this I am told countless of times,"to become a good writer you must read!"

I fully support the idea of becoming a better writer you need to read, however I think that particular adage (while well intentioned) is perhaps a little outdated. It's not so much about the act of physically reading a book - it's immersing yourself into the story. If it's graphic novels, animation, feature films or whatever - interacting with a story (regardless of media) and the creative process within it fuels your own creative processes. Certainly reading novels highlights the correct use of flowing storylines, paragraph and chapter construction, dialogue etc, but it's not the be all and end all. It's useful to help identify the structure and process of a story, but those elements can be found in films, music, graphic novels, games etc. Find something that inspires you and your creativity, and start from there. Unfortunately, the only way to become a better writer is to practice, practice, practice.

Secondly:

I think the greatest fear I have in this entire world would be to grow old and die without bringing my ideas to life, and because I do not read other people's stories my own stories will never be as good as they should. I need help.

This is not a problem restricted to you. This has nothing to do with being dyslexic or having any other condition other than being an artist/author/creative person. Show me a single author who hasn't struggled with this at one time or another and I'll show you someone who is lying through their teeth. We are our own worst critics. That said, the best thing you can do is write something, then show it to someone who can offer critical advice (i.e. actual constructive advice) and listen to what they have to say. Having a second set of eyes read something really helps to point out where things are missing/need improving - simply because when we read it ourselves, we automatically fill in the missing information, or can make the assumptions because of knowledge we have about the story that may not be as apparent as we think it is.

As for your tests, don't stress too much. School is only one (relatively small) part of life.

But, that said, as far as successful authors with learning difficulties, check out these lists - you might just be surprised. They didn't let it stop them, don't let it stop you!

.

3

Yes... Was that 18-26 or 18-62... I look at it a second time and it's 62-18 and look at it again and it's something else. I learned to read by reading the whole word rather than sounding things out because I couldn't trust things to stay put, and thank God for autocorrect. I don't have a problem reading to myself, but ask me to read out loud and it's torture and I feel like an idiot.

So, there are lots of resources out there for you - way more than there were when I was a kid.

First, your local library is probably part of an online audio book consortium like Overdrive. Ask your librarian for help.

Second, listen to podcasts. Lightspeed, Podcastle, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Clarkesworld, The Dunesteef, Writers on Writing, Writing Excuses, and there are tons more.

Third, dictate. You don't have to write your story, just record your voice and have a friend type it out for you or use voice recognition. There are a number of mainstream authors that write this way.

And finally, don't give up. You really can do it, and you can be great at it and you'll be coming to it with a perspective that will be extremely valuable for other people who struggle to say what they want to say.

2

I'm dyslexic, and enjoy writing and making stories too! There's two things you need to remember. Firstly that you enjoy creating stories, and secondly that practice makes perfect. Admittedly you and I are at a disadvantage compared to the average non-dyslexic. Especially those who can read at light speed. But let's not be pessimistic.

I suspect that the issue here isn't your dyslexia, but the fact you believe that talent is something one is born with instead of earned. Writing, like almost everything else, is a skill one has to practice. That's about it. Your being dyslexic has no relation to how much effort you choose to put into writing, nor how much satisfaction you can achieve from this. You want to be good at painting? Practice. You want to be good at a musical instrument? Practice. You want to be good at programming? Practice. Etc, etc, etc.

This is a problem many people have, in attempting to get good at something. They immediately dislike what they've done. They look at their peers who have been practicing since they were children, and throw their hands up and say "I can't do it! I'm no good at this!" they compare what they've done to experts and masters of their craft, who often spent years refining their best known art. But this is a terrible and self destructive comparison.

For example; we read Game of Thrones, but do not also read everything Martin had written before he became a published author. We don't see the progression, and how long it took to get to Westeros.

Ignore everyone else, just start doing what it is you want to do; that which you enjoy. Accept that your early efforts will not be great. This is fine, and you will see yourself improving over the weeks and months you choose to spend practicing. In the future you will look back to your earliest work with great fondness. Sure, it'll be filled with plot holes and bad spelling, but it meant something to you, and you actually bothered to do it, didn't you? It's a success, because it's progress. Practice makes perfect.

Ask for help too. Find someone (ideally more than one) who can offer constructive criticism from which you can learn and improve. Ideally another writer like you. Feedback is important, but some people are toxic and should be avoided if they can't encourage the best from you.

To conclude: don't worry. Just write. Enjoy writing! You didn't get it right that time? Don't worry, think about how to improve it. Rewrite it. Bin it. Write it again. Write something else. Keep writing. If it makes you happy, that's all that matters. After all. It's a damn sight more civilised and responsible a hobby than stealing cars, or joining the Islamic State.

0

To all the other excellent encouragement, I would simply add: Take your time! You need to give yourself the freedom to take as long as you need to find the strategies that make you successful. This means as a student (both in high school and college, if you go there) and as an author. It doesn't matter what score you get on the SAT, because the classroom of learning how to be a better writer is all you need to become the person you want to be.

0

Why do you need to read or write? Why not write about what you experience instead of what you have read? Why not make movies or draw comics – or make music?

There are many ways to become experienced, and there are many ways to express your creativity. It seems to me that you are trying to force yourself into writing, because your mother is a writer and books are a part of her life.

You do not want to read. Maybe you do not want to write either. Be openminded, and explore yourself. And have the courage to not live a life for your mother. It is your life, and you have to make yourself happy. Not her.

And if you come to the conclusion that indeed you want to write, then find your own path. There are so many ways of writing. Find your own approach. Experimentation is the key to forming your own creative self, no matter if you try to find an alternative to writing or your own way to write.

0

The people who say "to become a good writer you must read!" are operating on the assumption that everyone can read with ease. In your case, I would rephrase it as "to become a good writer and teller-of-stories you must listen to stories and understand how they work!"

We are emerging from a centuries-long period of history when text was king. In previous times, the spoken word was dominant. And now, fortunately, text is not the only alternative.

Aside from buying recorded-voice versions of books (which you can also borrow from your local library) you can download many copyright-free classics from Project Gutenberg and then use a computer to read the text out loud.

A different approach would be to immerse yourself in verbal storytelling, such as TED talks, and focus on developing your skill in that area. When you find those things of value that you have to share, others can help you optimize the text version of the content for you. (As they seem to have done here.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.