Writing out loud

Last night I was chatting with a great friend of mine over Skype. He’s in Holland, so you have to give him points for being able to type at all—it’s freezing over there.

Anyway, he’s been reading my blog for the past few days (obviously desperate for anything written in English), and apparently it’s creating a bit of a dilemma for him. You see, he wants to comment on a few of them, but hasn’t been able to. Not because of any technical issues, but rather… well, I’ll let him explain it.

“I could engage you in a detailed, articulate, and (I think) interesting (verbal) discussion on some of them. But then I sit in front of the blank text dialog on the web page, and I umm… well… is that the kettle boiling?”

In other words, he’s a brilliant speaker (not to mention a great storyteller), but feels that when he tries writing it down it gets lost in translation.

And that’s a real shame, because I’d love to hear/read what he has to say.

So what can he do about it? Well, I’m going to try and come up with a few suggestions of my own, but I’m really hoping you can all help out with this one.

My first suggestion would be for him to use something like Dragon Dictation on his iPhone, and have it translate whatever he says into text. (I actually told him about it while we were chatting, and he loved the idea.) Unfortunately, like most of the good stuff, we can’t get it in Australia yet.

He could also try the “manual” version, speaking out loud, and writing down what he hears, word for word. He just needs to make sure he’s alone when he does it, unless he really wants the whole train carriage to himself.

I still do it myself sometimes. Not only does it get the words out of my head and onto the page, it also helps me write the way I speak. (Okay, that may not be a good thing in my case, but it’s better than everything I write sounding like an academic essay.) My favourite quote at the moment is from Elmore Leonard: “When it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Great advice.

Finally, I’ll recommend a book I read a few years ago that really helped me out: “If you can talk, you can write” by Joel Saltzman. (I ended up buying a copy for myself, but then someone borrowed it and I never got it back.)

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Hope it helps, Russell. Because I really would love to read your comments one day.

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