Speak, Listen, and Write

If you’ve ever had an internship in media, chances are that you’ve experienced the joy of transcribing interviews. After spending hours transcribing an interview the other day, I started to think about how the interviewer and interviewee were speaking–how they often started a sentence, paused, and then went in a different direction; how that pesky “like” inserted itself even in the speech of mature adults. Their speech seemed strange to me when I saw it in written form on my word document. It was less structured, less formal, but also more natural.

This relationship between speaking and transcription reminded me of a student I recently worked with in the Writing Center. She claimed that she could easily and eloquently describe her argument and ideas out loud, but could not write them. This observation was accurate to a certain degree. She was not a “bad” writer as she claimed, but I found that her spoken ideas were clearer and more concise than her written ideas. I wondered what would happen if she recorded herself, and then transcribed her own ideas. Would this clarity in speech translate in an essay?

So, I have a challenge for those of you who are more comfortable speaking your ideas than writing them: record yourself, listen, and transcribe. See if your writing comes more naturally when it is connected to your speech. It may seem silly at first, but you’ll never know until you try. Sometimes you have no idea what’s in your head until you say it out loud. 


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