When You Can’t Write… Speak!

December 3, 2015 - As a book coach, I have had clients come to me who want to write their life stories, but they have difficulty with the writing itself. Some actually write quite well, and all they need is good editing and an outside perspective. Others have great difficulty writing at all. I have found, as a rule, that this second group has no trouble telling me their stories orally at length….

It should come as no surprise, then, that the best way for them to “write” is to draw on their strength and speak their story into a recorder. Once it is transcribed, it can easily be edited and focused just as if they had handed me a written rough draft.

What has been surprising to me – and delightful – has been to hear these budding authors exclaim, “This manuscript captures my thoughts exactly!” as if I had worked some kind of creative magic, rather than simply making a few tweaks to their own recorded words. They don’t realize the power of their own expression until they see themselves in print.

In some ways, books written in this way are, I believe, more powerful than the ones created on paper with painstaking care given to their written language. It is easy for new authors to become over-flowery as they try to write in what they perceive to be a “literary” way. But when a person tells their story orally, it has heart and authenticity and a uniqueness that becomes endearing to the listener. Why not write in this way, too?

Books are simply stories written down.

For those of us who do write with keyboard, paper, and pen, I think there is some wisdom in looking at the story-teller who doesn’t write. Unburdened by “literary” expectations, they focus on connecting with their audience and telling their story in an engaging way. And it is through this simplicity that their message and their heart comes through loud and clear.