Talking yourself into writing

I was rather amused by a study about learning foreign languages which concluded that extroverts learned to speak a foreign language more rapidly while introverts mastered writing in it quicker. The finding didn’t require rocket science, just a definition of those two traits.

However, some extroverts still long to write great novels. Because of this personality trait, they approach the task differently. A person who expresses their ideas vocally has the ability to use facial expressions and tone of voice. These are not available for words on a page. Instead the person must depend on action verbs, descriptive text, and connotation-loaded words to convey information. Extroverts have to consider how they verbally use stories to get their point across. Then, compare  the verbalized version with the written version to detect the basic differences.  

I recall listening to TED talks that seemed intriguing. Then, I read the transcript and realized that the ideas were simple, a bit too simple. But the story-telling that encased the idea created an interesting bubble around the basic point. In the case of the TED talks, some people with great ideas have been coached to talk in an engaging and enthusiastic manner for their presentation. It is not something that they do naturally or can keep doing for a long period of time. The extrovert may find they need some similar support to get through the difficulty of writing novels.

I don’t know if any formal study has been completed on this hypothesis, but I suspect that people who write with little planning and no outlines are a bit more outgoing than those who organize their ideas on paper before they begin. A person who “thinks out loud” in the manner of an extrovert may also prefer a writing process that is quick and allows writing down whatever comes to mind without much contemplation (otherwise known as being a pantser). This does work for some writers.  However, they soon discover that they have written three or four times the length of their book before they have a cohesive story that works for them.

One of the difficulties that many extroverts have when attempting to complete their novel is the isolation caused by writing. There are hours alone, without verbal feedback which may lead to a sensation of being “blocked.” Extroverts’ progress in generating ideas depends on talking about the topic. New technology that provides accurate transcriptions of the spoken language can come in handy. Extroverts can produce the initial text by speaking, which is their favored form of expression and spend the time to revise it later, after receiving feedback.

Repeating the same ideas using different words may work when speaking because we can use various facial expressions and tones of voice. But, when the only voice a person has is restricted to words on paper repeating the same idea in different words just won’t cut it. Sometimes, I’ve found those that write well have a difficulty explaining all the ideas that go through their head during that process. However, some of the most informative speakers about writing are not the best writers. There are times that you just can’t have it all.

This entry was posted in Creativity, Style and voice, Writer's resource and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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