Thoughts on Writing: Read It Out Loud

For me, 2020 started with a few posts about writing. I had read and listened to a lot of material on writing and wanted to share some of the things I had learned about how other writers approach writing as a craft, a process, and a passion. So I wrote posts about shitty first drafts, about not caring too much about what others say, and about the difference between Diamond Polishers and Vomit Drafters.

There are still a few shitty drafts left in my drafts folder, so I will definitely share more thoughts on writing from time to time. Yet, while I wrote a lot about the process in general, writing about my very own process is still not so easy. Mostly, because I don’t have one, at least not a very strict one. There is, though, one simple but extremely effective piece of advice which I was just reminded of by a wonderful interview with writer Roxane Gay:

When you are done with your text, read it out loud.

For me, this has become one of the most effective techniques to check how well a text works. I do it every single time. Reading a text out loud will surface all the tiny details that you tend to overlook when you read it quietly. Maybe you misspelled a word, or a sentence is too long or overly complicated. Or, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Is everything comprehensible, are the transitions working, and do the pauses between paragraphs feel right? You will recognize so much more once you read your text out loud. Because you shift your perspective a bit and actually hear how your text might sound in the head of a reader. You can totally use your news anchor voice for this, or your Jony Ive voice, if you happen to have one, too. And ideally, you even read your text with the rhythm and emphasis you intended. If the kids are asleep or you don’t want to wake up the sleeping dog, maybe turn down the volume a bit. But read your text so that you can hear your voice. I can almost guarantee you that it will improve the quality of every piece you write.


This is the 31st post of my 100 days of writing series. You can find a list of all posts here.


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