“One of the greatest struggles for me was that I couldn’t write fast enough for the words, so I would have all these ideas and things that I want to put down on the page and I could never get them down, and when I eventually did, it wasn’t quite as it had been in my mind. It’s still a problem now because even when I’m talking my mind moves faster than the words can come out.” – Orlando Bloom, talking about his experience with dyslexia
[Disclaimer: Everyone’s experience and struggle with dyslexia is different. My intention is to share MY experience, not comment on someone else’s disability.]
I think the half moon shaped table in my elementary school classes is universal. You know the table I’m talking about, the teacher sat in the middle, and the rest of the class sat around the table waiting for their turn to read aloud.
That table was my nightmare.
Even as young as kindergarten, I remember, if I was reading to myself, I was able to read the words in my school books. However, reading aloud, in front of others, was another story. I stuttered and stumbled over every word. Frustration filled me. Why could I read the words in my head, but not speak them clearly with my mouth? It was like the words got lost somewhere along the pathway from my brain to my lips.
In high school, teachers suspected I was dyslexic, but I didn’t find out for sure until I was tested by happenstance in college. I suspect my learning disability was largely overlooked by a combination of factors. Perhaps the most obvious is, I was always a good student, finishing in or at the top of my classes. My mom was a teacher and made a habit of helping me study at home. Thus, even if I showed difficulty in a subject, I mastered it with dedication, determination, and my mother’s willingness to instruct me at home. Also, I was a fast reader. I learned to read ahead and it was easier to read out loud if I’d already practiced it in my head. Oratory problems were mitigated by early enrollment on the drama team. I learned I absorb knowledge best with flash cards as a study guide, a technique I used even in law school and studying for the bar exam. Never for even a minute did I ask for any accommodations for my dyslexia. I always just thought the brain worked a different way, and I was lucky enough to understand I had to find unique ways to learn.
My mind moves quick, from subject to subject, to thought to thought, faster than I speak. Just talking to me or observing me on a day to day basis, you can’t tell I’m dyslexic. Yet, my brain works different, and it affects everything about how I approach tasks in my day to day living, career, and writing.
I write everything down. I use notes, physical planners, electronic planners, lists, and reminders to keep my brain organized. If I don’t, I WILL forget.
I have a very vivid and vibrant imagination. I see movies and reels in my head. I’m creative in unexpected ways, which lends well both to presenting a case to a jury, as well as writing fiction.
Besides math, the worst problem I struggle with is editing and focus. I can edit someone else’s work with no problems. However, it’s so difficult to edit my own work. It’s easier to have things in print for me to edit. I tend to read my own work as I intended and actually read words which may have been left out of sentences. It takes learning little tricks, which become second nature, to compensate. When that doesn’t work, I HAVE to have someone I trust to help me do line by line edits. It also helps to catch mistakes if I read my work aloud. When I review long documents and research, I’ve learned using tabs and highlighters work well to keep my focus and attention on my work.
Despite the struggle, I do not regret having dyslexia. It’s a part of me that makes me who I am. I see the world through varied eyes, I experience life with a creative flare, and I think in ways most people can’t comprehend.
I have all these words that I want to get out on paper. All these ideas for my current works in progress. My mind moves on fast forward, and sometimes I have to remember to hit the pause button. I keep ever expanding written lists and outlines for novels and characters. Like Mr. Bloom, I struggle getting what I see in my head to paper. Still, I will keep crafting words and tales, because I want the world to see what I see. I want to share the worlds I create in my head with others, and I hope people come to love the stories and characters as much as I do.