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As you can probably imagine, being dyslexic and choosing to become a writer was a brave move. I’ve never let my disability hold me back, and telling stories has always been my passion.
I’ve learnt a lot of tricks and tips over the years to try to keep the letters straight in my head and on the page.
That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it. Things still slip past. One of my current most problematic mistakes comes in the form of homonyms.
Specifically, I have an issue with homophones; homographs are mostly fine; I just need to remember one spelling.
But homophones… yikes.
I’m five years into my writing career, and I still mess up it’s and its.
How To Disable the Dyslexia Machine
I have developed some tips and tricks to manage my dyslexia, specifically surrounding the spelling issue.
It took a lot of hard work and a ton of practice, but honestly, one of the best cures was reading.
I began my reading journey by getting a coloured sheet to cover my physical books.
There are cheap ways of doing this, like finding plastic binders and using those, but most dyslexics have a colour they find easiest to read through.
Mine is a rose colour, but I’ve heard many people say they use blue, so that’s probably a good jumping-off place.
White is a difficult colour for dyslexics, so changing the colour meant that I could enjoy reading my favourite stories for a little bit longer. Closely examining words has helped me build up and develop my spelling ability.
So if your type of dyslexia can handle reading, I would recommend reading a good book for as much time as you can manage. Audiobooks are also an excellent option for dyslexics as you can still study the word choice without the headaches.
I only started listening to audiobooks a few years ago, and now, because of the accessibility, it is the way I read most often.
I definitely attribute most of my spelling success to familiarity with the written word. Listening to books will help you grow as a writer. Reading them physically will help with spelling.
When I first started exploring my writing passion, I found it very challenging, the world is now much more accessible for dyslexics.
There are a bunch of programs that help you with spelling. There’s autocorrect, Grammarly, and a lot of programmes now have an inbuilt spell check of some kind.
At the beginning of my writing journey, I did have to memorise spellings, but I found that hitting the keys in the right order made that easier.
Now instead of thinking about how a word is spelt, I simply begin to type the world, and my brain fills in the information.
I think it’s because I’m not actively trying to put the letters in the correct order, but because I have typed words so often that even if I spell it wrong, I can give a good enough guess. Then the autocorrect jumps in.
The biggest tip I can give you is to make mistakes in your first draft.
Don’t spend your mental energy worrying about catching errors in your first draft. Write as much as you can before you feel fatigued, and then put away your writing for the day. The more you practice writing, the longer you’ll be able to write and the fewer mistakes you’ll make in the long run. It’s about building up endurance and accuracy, but that all comes with time.
What you really need to focus on as a dyslexic is the editing process.
The editing process can be made easier in a bunch of ways. Grammarly is an excellent tool, as is autocorrect or a spell checker. You can also get an accessibility attachment that will read your words back to you, making checking for spelling errors a ‘by ear’ and not ‘by eye’ process.
Homonyms are the absolute most difficult to fix because a lot of editors don’t catch some issues.
Anytime you come across a homonym, the easiest way to manage it is to say it out loud and check the meaning against the context.
There are also some handy tricks that you can learn for the words you use most often. If I wrote write instead of right, I can tell with tricks, for example, the w from writer is in write.
By using little tricks like this, I can generally see when I’ve made a mistake.
A trick I’ve also seen used is pronouncing the silent letters to, so ‘write’ because ‘w-rite’ in the proofread.
With ‘they’ and ‘its’ etc. I will take the time to say the words individually ‘they’re’ becomes ‘they are’ in a proofread. If it doesn’t make sense, I know I’ve used the wrong one.
You shouldn’t have to give up on your dreams because of a disability.
There are so many tools out there that make writing accessible to literally everyone. One I forgot to mention but could be a huge help to someone is text to speech.
If you want to be a writer, it’s worthwhile putting in the time to look for programmes that are going to make the writing process easier for you.
Don’t let anything hold you back.
As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf.