Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Writing Vs. Speaking

Jennifer explains what she means (hopefully)...

I mutilate words on a daily basis. Seriously, when I speak, I make up words, I use the wrong words, I’m even at a loss for words. My husband, who’s often on the receiving end of it, shakes his head at me and questions how a writer can speak that way. Usually, I laugh.

But the thing is, writing and speaking are completely different. Speaking is a spur-of-the-moment thing, which is why we so often get in trouble for the things we say. We speak without thinking, without realizing the power behind our words. We convey tones, sometimes even without meaning to.

If you’re like me, you often struggle to come up with a reply, realizing only later that the perfect response would have been “X.”

Writing is labor intensive. It is a struggle, even on the days it comes easily. It requires thought and planning. It requires a lot of deleting and rewriting. It’s why so many things have been invented to get rid of words—erasers, whiteout, delete buttons, backspace keys, crossouts.

By the time the word gets onto the page and the page is complete, those written words have intent and meaning behind them. They’re not cavalierly thrown onto the page. It’s only in writing that I’m able to create the perfect retort and to say everything I wish I’d said in a particular situation.

I think the next time I’m at a loss for words, I’m going to sit at my computer and write out what I wanted to say. I’ll see how that works!


  1. I can also write much better than I can speak, and I agree about the satisfaction of being able to create the right words for your characters. Maybe it would be interesting to create a story where a character is always saying the wrong thing!

  2. Speaking without thinking definitely tends to get us in trouble sometimes, doesn't it?

    Paula, a character with the funny quirk of always saying the wrong thing would be funny. Actually, there's a mystery series out there (the Chocoholic Mysteries) where the heroine does just that.

  3. I think that would be very hard to do, kind of like playing against type. We try so hard to find exactly the right words, that to purposely find the wrong ones sounds difficult. Fun, but difficult.

  4. I stuttered as a child, and I still do, at times.
    I can think of the perfect retort weeks later.
    Then there are the Freudian slips. I hardly ever make those.