Writing with Dyslexia

August 5, 2013 | By | 8 Replies More
Tamsin Jupp

Tamsin Jupp

I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until I was in my twenties and at university. Apparently my tutor thought my handwriting ”looked like someone with dyslexia” and sent me off to be tested. When they confirmed I was, I purposefully didn’t look into what that meant. I didn’t want to be labelled. But as my middle child grows and struggles with most probably the same thing, I have started to investigate more into the condition so I understand her better. And I started sharing my writing publicly to show her that even though we have this, it is in no way limiting.

Over the years I’ve found it easier to express myself in writing than in conversation with a stranger.  With someone I know well it’s fine, I’m relaxed and articulate. Sometimes even witty. But with stress and tiredness it sneaks out and starts to win, the internal override switch no longer works and I lose control. Letters don’t sit in the right places, they swap themselves around when I’m not looking and thoughts jump around in an illogical way. Alice with labyrinth thoughts, twisting and turning, branching out then suddenly ending with no warning. That’s the dyslexia.

I’ve learnt to recognise and spell words by shape. Each word is special and usually has an image attached to it to help me remember it. My brain jumbles sounds, making taking on information orally and phonetically spelling hard, so I learn by reading copiously and prefer to express myself in writing where I can take my time to think about and get my answer exactly how I want. This is where the beauty of computers comes into its own. I just write as the images come to me and then cut and paste it later into an order that is hopefully legible. It’s probably why I prefer to write flash fiction and poetry. It suits my style more.

Dyslexia helps me too as a writer.  Not being able to spell a word or even guess at the beginning order of letters,   means that I have a huge vocabulary. If I can’t use one word, I usually have three I can replace it with. Listening to people can be hard, I’m better at one on one then in a large crowd. But it means I listen intently, quietly, and I watch their mouth and body language carefully. Great for show not telling in my characters. And I remember in images, my mind is filled with pictures.

I use my words to paint these pictures so I can share what I see with others. Hopefully they can see the beauty I see and not a jumble of brambles. And maybe just maybe they might even be inspired to try for themselves. 



Tamsin has re-found her passion for writing after the birth of her second child. It was the breathing space and creative push that she had been lacking in her life and she hasn’t looked back. Her work has been published on-line, she has written for a local newspaper in London, writes copy for websites and is currently working on flash fiction and poetry.  You can follow her on twitter  @Dandeliongirl01 or visit her website http://dandeliongirl01.wordpress.com/

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Category: Being a Writer, British Women Writers, Contemporary Women Writers, On Writing, Women Writing Poetry

Comments (8)

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  1. Thanks so much for writing this,like you and a couple of commenter’s I was diagnosed in my late twenties and whilst I can spell, I have huge problems with grammar and maintaining story-lines due to short term memory problems.Its good to know that there are different forms of writing for different abilities as I don’t class dyslexia as a ‘disability’.

  2. jane yates says:

    Hello Tasmin,
    many thanks for writing your wonderful artical.
    I too was diagnosed when i was in my twentys
    i have always been a painter


    but i did not start to right a book untill i was 50, last year


    i find the hardest thing, that i cant see a mistake in my writting, and then dealing with people remarks like i was just to lasy

    my second book should be live today, and i would say to any dyslexic wimin, be barve and go for it, i have not looked back, i get such nice comments about my books.

    jane @JYparadoxchild

    thank you

  3. This is so inspiring. My brother and my husband both have dyslexia and both are avid readers who’ve kept on persevering in spite of struggling with learning to read and write.

    I love what you’ve written about substituting one word for another and that you’re able to show rather than tell. Not having dyslexia myself, this is hugely interesting for me. I’m the opposite – I often struggle to show rather than tell. I’m learning but it’s taking a while.

  4. Miriam Drori says:

    I don’t think people who don’t have dyslexia can really understand the thought processes or the experiences of those who do. That doesn’t mean that I think you shouldn’t write about it. On the contrary. It’s important for everyone to know as much as they can about it, including the advantages and disadvantages it brings. Thank you for adding to my knowledge.

  5. As the mother of two severely dyslexic children – both now adult – and the daughter of a severely dyslexic father I welcome your post. I also teach creative writing to adults and in nearly every class I have at least one student who is dyslexic – sometimes unrecognized. While I applaud your positive attitude, I wouldn’t want to underestimate the struggle that many dyslexics experience. They are at least as bright as most people and are often a good deal more creative with an infinity for language and design, but they have a barrier to overcome and it is a tough one. You only have to look at the incidence of dyslexia among the prison population to know that without skilled support and understanding, the frustration and anxiety of a learning difficulty that can put you at the bottom of the class when you ought to be competing for first place can be destructive.

  6. Jessica Surely says:

    very nice. improving our ability to express ourselves is something we constantly strive for, throughout our lives… and whatever our own particular challenges may be, we can be sure that countless others share in the same struggles.

    i think these types of posts are valuable and inspirational to many. they also provide your friends/followers with deeper insight into you. and that is appreciated

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