I had the experience the other night of reading a poem I’ve written to a new friend. I haven’t read the poem in a very long time. While reading I got lost in the memories that inspired the verses. Halfway thru, I left the reading, took off on a tangent of the story triggered by an image. Sharing with full enthusiasm.
He might as well have screamed when he said, “Whaaaat? I can’t believe you stopped reading. I was there. Right in it. And you stopped reading.”
I’d forgoten an important tenet of writing, and in turn, reading aloud. Writing is connection. C.o.n.n.e.c.t.i.o.n. And connection happens in the spaces.
In the space between the written word and the reader. The space where you craft words (or read) to engage. And for connection with ourselves, the space between process & thought and words on the page.
I was so immersed in that space connecting with myself, I forgot the listener!
I immediately began reading, again. This time completely present and cognizant. Feeling the words and the dream they spun. And at the end, I felt the magic woven in the poem in a new way.
What happened that night reminds me why we all need to read our work aloud to others, whether it’s raw or polished. Even when we think what we wrote stinks, or not what we intended, or it feels hard to share. Even when we know it’s not finished, the names are not right, or someone may not like it. Even when it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It’s not only an act of bravery, but it’s a necessary part of being a writer.
Because it takes the words out of our own heads, and often beyond our own judgement. Hearing our work spoken can diffuse the stories we tell ourselves about what we create, and who we are as writers & creatives.
Because reading aloud allows the full expression of connection – to reader & listener, and with ourselves.
- Take a moment, think of writing as connection. How does it feel to think of writing this way.
- Find someone you trust to read your work to. Don’t ask if they like it or not. Simply have the experience of hearing your words out loud, and having another experience them. Invariably, something will be shared. Remember, this is not a critique. Take what works, let the rest go, and see if you feel the work differently.
- When you write in a circle, and you’re not required to read, read every time. Refrain from prefacing your reading with statements such as ‘this is awful, but. . .’ Remember, it’s all raw work. We all have good days and not so good days.
- Read your journal entries and other work you wrote for yourself aloud. Notice if you feel any differently hearing them. Make notes.
Every time you read aloud, whether to others or for yourself, you expand the work.
Enjoy the process. Think, Discovery!
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