Speak Up!

by Joe Moore
scream Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how hard it is to talk after spending so much time in front of a computer writing thousands of words? It seems that the longer I spend writing, the more my ability to speak with others has diminished. When I’m at a social gathering or pretty much any situation where I try to communicate verbally, I tend to open my mouth and stammer or stutter as fragments of thoughts shoot out like shrapnel. Talking with others in real-time doesn’t allow me to craft my speak with first drafts, second drafts, rewrites, spell check, and thesaurus comparisons for alternative words. After all, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in a dark room with my eyes going buggy from the glow of my monitors while I labor over choosing just the right verb, avoiding passive voice, trying to catch myself from falling into the trap of using useless adverbs and flowery adjectives, cliches, over-writing, under-writing, starting my thoughts in the wrong place, line editing, plotting, split infinitives, dangling–well, you get the idea. As a writer, talking to others has become hard for me.

I find myself ordering pizza on the Internet from Papa Johns and Dominos so I don’t have to talk to the person at the store. I send faxes, emails, text messages, IM, anything to get out of talking to someone. I even email my wife in the next room.

Talking has become painful. It seems that the more I write, the worse I speak. I open my mouth and people give me a pitiful, “I hope he writes better than he talks” stare. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I spend the majority of my day in the company of imaginary people?

Is this a byproduct of writing novels or is it just me loosing my ability to communicate with my mouth? Maybe I should consider voice recognition software. I wonder if those programs can interpret verbal gibberish? So, is it just me or what?


5 thoughts on “Speak Up!

  1. I don’t know that it’s so much an issue that I can’t get my thoughts in order after writing thousands of words. For me it’s more that I become hermitlike. “Regular people” aren’t as interesting as my characters. “Regular life” is boring, so it’s more that I find my attention wandering during conversations (which obviously makes it hard to make the socially correct response).

  2. I have a hard time re-entering after a long writing session.

    If I get up for a cup of coffee, I’m still “writing” in my head but my husband thinks I’m fair game for chatting. Poor guy! I can hardly make eye contact at those times.

  3. I don’t notice myself having more trouble speaking–no more than usual slight stammer, anyway–as micuh as I find myself less inclined to talk. The more I write, the more satisfied I am to listen to others. That could be a product of aging–er, excuse me, I mean maturity, or it oculd be writing related. Either way, it seems to be working out all right.

  4. I also find that when I do talk I end up crapping on (and on) about my work in progress – boring people witless in the process. I’m still living in my imaginary world and am so invested in my characters’ lives I think other people will be too. My husband just yawns and I get the hint.

  5. This is true. COnversation gets hard after silently communiticating in your head all day.

    One of the benefits of podcasting my novels, is that at the end of a long day writing a few thousand words I get to speak several chapters in the voice of all the different characters therefore keeping my mouth active and flexible and aiding the muscle memory for forming words quickly.

    The downside of course is that I may at times end up speaking in multiple different character voices during a conversation with normal person, thereby creeping them out and ending up having to converse with myself again.

    Hmmm…there’s got to be a plus to this somewhere.

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