Listening to Your WIP – #WritingTip #amwriting

We’ve talked about this in the past, but as I avail myself of the process more and more, I now wonder how I wrote anything without stopping to hear my words now and then. At the very least, how did I dare submit my revised document to an editor, never having done so? And yet it’s SO easy.

Like many of you, I have a regular writing routine, even though it got a bit lost in the post-hurricane shuffle. I’m getting back to it again. I write every morning, immediately after taking care of any emails that won’t wait. I always plan to write at least two or three hours, but more often end up writing for longer periods of time. (Thank you, Fitbit, for reminding me to get up every hour and walk for a few minutes.)

The first thing I do when I sit down to write is to go over what I wrote the day before. I prefer to catch obvious errors and make little tweaks before movingย  on. (It saves me lots of time in revision to start with aย  fairly clean copy, plus it puts me back in the story for the day’s work ahead.) And for the last year or so, I don’t just read what I’m going over. I listen to it, as well. You can download several good apps to do this, but having tried a few, I prefer using the one that comes with Word. It’s free, and honestly, it sounds every bit as good. Plus, since I write my books in Word to begin with, it means I don’t have to open another program.

What’s that? You didn’t know Word would read your work back to you? Neither did I for a long time, but thanks to a post here some time ago, I found out it does, if you ask nicely. ย ๐Ÿ˜€ย  It’s EASY, and this is how you do it. First, open your WIP in Word. Take a look at the very top of the page, in what is called the Quick Access Toolbar. It looks like this:

The default setting for this toolbar includes the icons for Save (the disk), Undo/Redo (the arrows), and Speak (the speech bubble). If you have somehow removed that from your Quick Access Toolbar, click on the DOWNWARD pointing arrowย to the right and scroll down to where it says More Commands. Click on that, and this is what you’ll see:

You can choose among the options in the left hand list to add them to the right hand list. Once they are in that right hand list, they will appear in your Quick Access toolbar. If you do NOT see “Speak” in that right hand list (note the red arrow), find it on the left side, and move it over. Click OK at the bottom, and when you close the menu, you should see the icon in your Quick Access Toolbar. See? Easy.

As for how you use it, just as simple. In your document, highlight the text you wish toย hear and click on the speak bubble. (Be sure your speakers are on.) The voice will read what you have written. If you’ve never done this before, you may not realize this,ย but your ears will pick up lots of things your eyes miss.ย Double words ( to to, the the)ย and omitted words, for starters. That alone is worth using this. But you’ll be surprised at how often you’llย notice that a sentence you thought was fine is really quite clunky. Or perhaps you missed thatย it’s a run-on sentence, and hearing it aloud brings it to your attention. And phrases or character names that have been repeated far too often will positively jump out at you.

I oftenย struggle withย a tricky paragraph, and will stop to listen just to that before moving on. It’s amazing how hearingย  it out loud immediately alerts me as to why I was having trouble with it. I can often fix the problem simply by reordering the sentences. And sometimes, when I hear the paragraph out loud, I realize it’s just dumb, and should be deleted at once. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

So there you have it folks. Whether you use this tool as you go along, like I do, or save it for final revisions, I bet you’ll find listening to your work a major help. I hope so, anyway. I sure do. Give it a try, at least. What have you got to lose? ๐Ÿ™‚


68 thoughts on “Listening to Your WIP – #WritingTip #amwriting

  1. Great advice. It is true that you can pick up many things that are not evident by just reading it. It works very well for my translations as well. Thanks and have a great weekend, Marcia. And good luck with your writing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Olga. I’m always amazed when I hear something I didn’t even know was there from just reading. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can imagine it would be very helpful with translations, too. I’ll be having another work weekend, as we try to catch up on restoring our garden and repainting the house, but I’m happy to be getting it done, bit by bit, so it’s all good! ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great weekend, yourself. โค

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great advice, Marcia. Like you, I had tried several online tools, only to find Word works just as good (or better). I write in Scrivener but edit in Word. Before taking pages to my critique group, I always try to read aloud. However, when I read it, I often say what I intended to say not what I wrote. The Word reader helps to catch those little mistakes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Joan. I agree. Reading aloud myself isn’t the best way to go, as I tend to automatically correct errors, or read what I think I wrote. But hearing someone else read out loud (even if it’s a computer-generated voice) is vastly different, and the errors just pop out. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the Word Speak option. I think it’s great, and it’s always good to know others do, as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for taking my hand and leading me through the process of adding this awesome command to my WORD toolbar. It knocked my socks off when I heard my words being spoken! I had to do a bit of finagling to find the command by switching the menu to All Commands. But once I found it; it was easy to enter onto my toolbar. I’m sure I will use this to check my writing. Thanks Marcia!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so glad it is proving useful for you, Marie. It’s been a great help to me! I did explain how to go to the More Commands prompt, in the paragraph between the two illustrations. You may have been so excited to find out about this option in Word, you just missed that bit. So glad you were able to find it on your own anyway. Yay, you! ๐Ÿ‘

      This has been a real game changer for me, and I hope it is for you as well. Thanks for stopping by! ๐Ÿ˜€โค


    • It was news to me a few months back, too, but I couldn’t live without it, now. I hope you’ll really enjoy having this option, and that you’ll find it makes a great deal of difference in your finished work. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • We’ve all known that feeling at times. The easiest way to do this (and as always, there are multiple routes) is to right click on Home, and select Show Quick Access Toolbar ABOVE the ribbon. I suspect yours is below, and not in blue, so it’s harder to see, or hidden under other things. Hope that works for you. You’ll LOVE this feature, I’m think. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love using this feature of Word, and when I got my new laptop a year ago it had a newer version of Word, and I couldn’t find the Speak selection. I was relieved to discover it was labeled Read Aloud. @v@ โค

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it, Jacqui. It is excellent for catching small errors or clumsy structure. Missed words are a big one for me, or double words from Cut & Paste errors. It will never read with “feeling,” but it sure does help me clean up my writing. ๐Ÿ˜€


    • Hi, JP! Nice to see you here. And I’m so glad the post helped you find a new tool. Every single one of them helps, right? And this one is one I can’t imagine doing without, now that I know how many mistakes it helps me catch. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for taking the time to let me know this post was useful! Have a great weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, Audrey! I’m glad my instructions were of help to you, and I predict you will LOVE how much hearing your words read aloud benefits you during revision. It’s always right there at the top of the page, so any time I’m unsure of what I’m writing, even during my draft, I’ll highlight part of it and listen to it. It helps me be a better writer all the way around, I think. Thanks for letting me know the post helped! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, as I said, we’ve talked about it in the past (when I was using an app, and someone commented it could be done in Word), but I thought it was time to put it out there again. Only this, time I explained how to find it, if it wasn’t in that Quick Access Toolbar. It took me some searching the first time, so I thought an illustration or two might speed the process up for others.

      I absolutely could not write without it. I listen to many things as I go along on my draft to be sure I like the tone of the chapter, etc. And I have no clue how I ever revised anything without it. It’s so helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for passing it along again, Deb! โค

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve used Word a few times to do readings, but admit I often forget it’s there. Like you, I start each writing session by dialing back a few scenes through what came before. I like constantly cleaning my work ,and like you said, it helps ground me for moving forward.

    Cheers, Marcia, and happy writing!:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae. Yep, I’m always tweaking as I go along with my draft. If a better word or phrase pops into my mind, I want to grab it before I forget. But hearing that last chapter read aloud before I start the next one is the best thing I’ve ever learned to do.

      Cheers to you, as well, Mae! And thanks for stopping by! ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Bette. It’s amazing how many of us Word users didn’t know about this until recently. I’m glad you were able to add it, and that it’s working well for you. Hope it makes as much different in your writing or editing process as it does for mine! Thanks for letting me know, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think this has been an option for a while, so if you check that Quick Access Toolbar, or the menu for items you can add to it, you may find it. Hope so! Thanks for stopping by! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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    • I love it when something I post really helps another writer. So happy that you’re excited about this. It made a HUGE difference to me in revising and proofing my draft, before submitting to my editor. Thanks so much for sharing, too. I really appreciate the reblog! ๐Ÿ™‚ โค

      Liked by 1 person

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