Sunday, February 8, 2015

How Does One Become a Writer with Dyslexia?

All the marketing professionals that offer free tips say authors, especially new indie authors, should have a blog. Well, I've got that. I've had this since last summer to showcase my writing skills. I started it at the request of friends who wanted some place to read my short stories. Since some people had trouble loading this on their mobile devices I also started an account on Wattpad where I share the same stories.

I've been to the blogs of other authors where they give advice on writing methods and whatnot.  I wracked my brain and I honestly don't think I can give you advice you can't get anywhere else. I don't have a "method" per se, I just kind of do it. I get an idea, so I run with it. I can however tell you what it's like to be a writer with dyslexia. I guess that's one experience I have to offer that I haven't seen on other pages.  

What is it like to have dyslexia? How do you manage to write with that condition? To answer the first question: I ask you, What is it like not to have dyslexia? I was born this way, I've never known anything different. My Mom read to me a lot when I was a little girl so I was fascinated with stories and words in general. It wasn't until I started learning letters and learning to read that we discovered that something wasn't quite right. It's not uncommon for young kids to mix up letters and words, but most have it straight in their minds by the time they're seven or eight. So, no one thought it was a problem. It was my second grade teacher who eventually discovered it really was a problem. My Mom asked what she could do to help me. My teacher suggested I learn to spell aloud and Mom correct me when necessary. I also read aloud a lot; at home and at school. I memorized the way letters are supposed to look, even if it made no sense to me. I memorized the proper spelling of a lot of words and learned at a young age how to use a dictionary. My Mom would often look up the word for me and we'd practice spelling it aloud. We also learned phonics in school which helped me immensely when it came time to read. The answer to that second question is: very carefully, with lots of dedication and practice. Now I also have this wonderful font for my computer called Dyslexie that I highly recommend.

I know I mentioned I read aloud a lot in school; the whole class did really. Did I make mistakes? Of course. Did other kids laugh at me? No, that was not tolerated in Ms. Scott's classroom. She was not one to tolerate such behavior and you learned that lesson quickly. She was a wonderful teacher and I miss her.

I have to admit I still make mistakes all the time when I write. I'm very grateful for spell check! Most of the time I catch them and correct them right away, but occasionally they slip past me and I don't notice until I edit. I proofread and edit a lot! If I'm really struggling with a paragraph or even a whole chapter, I ask someone else to read it. That's often my husband. He'll point out spelling errors, word omissions, or things that just plain don't make sense. Over the years I've become quite adept at knowing when a word or sentence just doesn't look right. I confess to using Google as my backup spell check with appalling regularity. I also read things I've written aloud to verify if it sounds right; I read it to my husband sometimes too. Of course there are things I read that still sneak past my observation for quite a while. I just learned today that British television show is called Downton Abbey and not Downtown Abbey. Well didn't you think that was a weird name for a television show? Of course I did! Then again, have you seen the names of some shows these days? I really didn't think much about the title! I probably would have noticed a lot sooner that there wasn't a second W if I ever watched the show. I just saw the title in passing on social media ads and comments from friends who watch it. Now I stare at the word and think "How could I have missed that?" -_- such is the life of a dyslexic.

I guess the biggest point I'm trying to make is that I don't give up. I have dyslexia; it doesn't have me. My stubborn determined nature comes in handy with that aspect of my life. I remember my Granny telling me when I was young that I was a natural storyteller. I refuse to let a little thing like dyslexia stop me from telling my stories when I have one in my head. I've worked hard to overcome it. I have a sense of humor about it too which I think has saved me from being teased for a good deal of my life.

Dyslexia doesn't have to stop anyone from reading and writing. If you suspect your child, or one you know, may have it, don't hesitate to get them help. Just keep in mind that it's normal for them to invert their letters and occasionally mix them up in words until they're about eight years old. Some kids catch on and work it out at an earlier age. If your child complains they don't like to read or write, it never hurts to have them tested for any learning disability just to be certain. The earlier you get help for them, the easier it make their lives and education. If it turns out they just aren't enjoying reading, I highly recommend The Magic Tree House books and A-Z Mysteries series. It really got my boys into reading. My eldest now loves mystery stories and at the age of twelve has read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Encyclopedia Brown is still out there too! Check your local library.

I think that's going to end my story for now. I'm alway open to answering questions in the comment section. It doesn't embarrass me, it's part of my life.