I Write Because I Can

Bloganuary prompt: Why do you write?

Thinking about it (and I never thought much about it until today), it is curious and surprising that I write and even enjoy writing.

I was born and raised in Germany and enjoyed reading from an early age. I struggled with writing rules and grammar. At first, it was thought I “would grow out of it”. With enough practice, I would finally get it. Because neither my vocabulary nor intelligence was lacking, most of my teachers probably felt that I would manage if I only put in an effort. Granted, this was in the early 1970s and research into learning disabilities was only in its early stages. Finally, when I was about to fail grade six a second time, a psychologist tested me and diagnosed me with Dyslexia, or as it was then also known as “weak reading and writing skills”. Challenges like this are always a range. My reading skills were never a big problem. Maybe I read a little slower than average and my accuracy is sometimes a little off but that may have to do more with executive function.

English is much better for me

When I started learning English in school a curious thing happened: I have no (or very few) Dyslexia issues in English. This seems to be very unusual because apparently, some people discover that they are dyslexic in a foreign language. English just clicked with me. Because it was the one subject in high school that did not require me to write correct German, I actually had decent marks.

Later in life, this skill came in handy for careers that involved being fluent in English or even bilingual. It also helped a lot when I immigrated to Canada in late 1989.

At that time I didn’t write a lot. My occupation simply didn’t require it. Other than notes to myself and shopping lists there was not much to write.
This changed later but by that time I had access to a computer.

Word processor to the rescue

Many think people “grow out of” challenges like Dyslexia or ADHD. I am not an expert on this, but I believe that we develop strategies that help us get around the hurdles the neurotypical world throws us.

For me the biggest help are computers. There are several ways computers help me:

  • One of the strategies many people with dyslexia use is hiding errors in messy handwriting. As a result, no one can read your writing, including the writer. Obviously typing into a computer has eliminated this.
  • When word processors started featuring spell check my life got easier again. Even though they didn’t point out all the mistakes and were weak on grammatical rules in the beginning, the help they offer is greatly appreciated. To this day I write anything in German with my phone because it has a German spell checker on it.
  • Organizing thoughts and providing a structure to save things. Although this has more to do with challenges in executive function, I keep losing notes and other papers. Saving them instead of keeping an unorganized mess is much easier for me.

Why do I write?

That was a lot of background to answer today’s question 🙂 .

  • I enjoy writing because I can. As explained above I suffered for many years from being punished and feeling inadequate for my writing. Being able to write something people can actually read and understand is still a treat.
  • In writing (especially with a computer) I can put my thoughts in order much better than when I speak. I can edit, re-organize and format.
  • Writing helps me think. This post is a perfect example – I groaned when I saw the prompt. Once I had the basic idea and started writing, everything flowed.

Thanks for reading what I wrote 🙂

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