Speak up! Read your writing out loud

When you work in a radio newsroom, you get used to people talking to themselves.

They’re reading radio scripts out loud. It’s not just practice: it’s a way of making sure the writing actually sounds like something they would say.

That makes a lot of sense if you’re soon going to be performing that script on the radio.

But you know what?

The ear is an amazing tool you can use to improve any kind of writing.

It picks up missing words.

It stops listening when your sentence is so long that it can’t remember how it started.

It sets alarm bells ringing when you stumble over the word “functionality” and realize it’s jargon you don’t need.

It tells you something isn’t quite right when you’re skipping back and forth between the past and present tense.

The ear can hear bad writing that your eyes can’t always see.

So trust your ear. Find a corner and read your writing aloud.

If it doesn’t sound right, ask yourself if you need to break that long sentence in half or find a different word.

I know, we’re all busy. In my dream world, we’d all have time to read every bit of writing out loud. Alas, we don’t live there yet.

So how about reading one or two things aloud every day? Even that will help your eye learn to pick up what your ear already knows.


Bonus: “Aloud” or “Out loud” –  Both “aloud” and “out loud” are correct. You can use them interchangeably. Take your pick, but make sure “out loud” is two separate words and “aloud” is just one.