My brain works so much faster than any of my output mechanisms. I certainly can’t write as fast as I can generate ideas, and even though I’m a pretty fast typist, my fingers can’t keep pace with my thoughts. And–this may shock a few people–neither can my mouth most of the time. Thankfully, I can usually retain my ideas, observations, and arguments in my head long enough for my fingers (or mouth) to catch up.
Occasionally I forget, though, and it frustrates me to know that a really valid point or clever witticism has completely vaporized. I’ve talked to enough other people to know that this problem is not unique to me. Some people suffer from it more than others, but I’m fairly convinced that we’re all somewhere on the can’t-get-it-out-fast-enough spectrum.
My son has it bad. He is an extremely verbal kid who can easily build a detailed case orally. Though learning to type has help his conversion speed quite a bit, what he puts on paper doesn’t come close to what he knows. Imagine the problems this can cause when writing essays and book reports for school. He has a good grasp of the information, but what he writes doesn’t reflect what he tells me. There are often gaping holes and fragmented logic sprinkled throughout his papers.
An educator introduced us to a clever trick. She suggested investing in a small digital recorder into which my son could speak his thoughts. He could then play back the recording, stopping and starting at his will to let his fingers catch up. Simple, yet brilliant.
When I stumble across tricks like this, you’d better believe I take notice. With so much of today’s communication in written form–email, web copy, even text messages–it has never been more important to be clear and effective. We all need all the help we can get in order to be effective. And if it works for a seventh grader, it’ll work for anyone.