I Write Like I Talk

Harry and I participated in an exciting business conference this past weekend. People came from the US and Canada. One man I met talked with me about his writing, and he said, “I write like I talk. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

Well, it’s neither good nor bad. It’s good if you write in your own voice. It’s bad if you write for ear and not the eye.

What do I mean by write for the eye? Listen to people and you’ll hear words said in ways that sound fine. Write those same words down exactly as said, and you’ll see gaps, mixed verb tenses, plural pronouns used with singular antecedents, etc. All of these are writing errors and you don’t want them published under your name.

Why do you think writers groups have someone read the writing out loud while the audience listens? Why do people attend readings by authors? We listen to writing to sample the writing. If the writing falters in beat, in word choice, in emotion, in visualization, chances are the reader will zone away from the writing and momentarily lose connection with it.

This happened to me in a writers group back in the 1980s. The author read aloud, but I lost connection and zoned away. During the oral critique of the writing, someone said, “I wasn’t terribly interested in your story until you mentioned the cook was naked.”

Well, I heard that! “What?” I said. “I didn’t hear anything about a naked cook in the story.”


The point was the author did lose me and almost lost another group member in the reading. That told the author to work some more on the story because readers weren’t engaged. Listening to the writing pointed that out.

It’s okay if you write like you talk, as long as your voice realizes the reader is reading with the eye and sometimes hearing your voice in the ear.

Happy writing!



1 Response to “I Write Like I Talk”

  1. 1 Nancy Y Wade November 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. I sometimes forget about this.

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