Inside The Minds Of Writers

by Dish Staff

Jennifer Hodgson relays research into how writers experience the voices of their characters:

Writers describing the formative years of a career have spoken of character formation as a case of “throwing” their voice, frequently tasking characters with voicing what they, the author, do not feel able to express. At this time, the inner voice tends to be experienced as integral, direct and personal; authors’ engagement with the inner voice through writing may be inflected by a sense of distress or turmoil, and motivated by the need to negotiate their position in the world.

Over time, however, interviewees report that they have noticed transformations in the dialogism, empathic and imaginative qualities, and polyphony of the inner voice. These changes may be informed by many different registers of experience – both conscious and subconscious – as the inner voice begins to contain echoes of other voices harvested from life and literature.

The survey has also found that “many writers are unable to ‘see’ the faces of their protagonists,” with the “main character often [registering] as a blank.” Meanwhile, Tammy Ruggles, who is legally blind, shares what it’s like to write without sight in a more literal sense:

You might think that being a freelance writer would be impossibly difficult for a blind (or legally blind) person, but that’s a misconception. Before the computer age, the visually impaired could dictate their words to be set down in print or use a stylus to write in braille and have it transcribed, but today’s accessible technology makes writing so easy that you may not realize I used a screen reader, speech recognition software and a magnification program to write this. If you aren’t familiar with accessible technology, let me describe a few applications: My Windows 7 came with Speech Recognition, which types what you say. I also downloaded a screen reader called Non-Visual Desktop Access, which reads out loud the items on my screen, from a text document like this article to posts from my Facebook friends. Additionally, I have a magnification program that enlarges items on my 47-inch computer monitor. …

[Y]ou may now be wondering if blind writers would be able to carry on without all of this technology. I can’t speak for every visually impaired scribe, but I know that I would find a way, somehow, to keep writing, whether that meant learning braille or dictating the old-fashioned way. It’s hard to keep a creative spirit down.