Reading your writing out loud is generally a good thing to do, whatever the medium, genre or format. It helps you understand the rhythm of your writing and, more often than not, it helps you discover punctuation and grammar glitches that you might not otherwise have noticed. Spoken word events are popular the world over with aspiring poets and budding prose writers. And I know that a lot of people who read this blog have their roots in creative writing and may well have read their work at open-mic nights.
But what about you (us) bloggers? In fact, what about journalists, non-fiction writers and all the other wordsmithery that goes on away from the literary world?
Well, I'm here to tell you all to stop being shy and get out there with your work. From my experience of performing at and organising spoken word events, so long as your writing is able to hold an audience, it doesn't matter what medium it's in.
Good writing is good writing and that's all an open-mic crowd wants to hear.
But what's in it for me?
Good point. But then really, what's in it for creative writers either? I'm set to see a literary agent or publisher offer someone representation or a book deal on the back of a reading. In fact, I'm yet to see a literary agent or a publisher attend a spoken word night that wasn't part of a major festival (though I'm sure it happens).
The truth is, creative writers perform their work because it helps them guage an audience's reponse. It also forces them to think about the structure of their work; the natural, or otherwise, ebbs and flows of their writing.
I honestly believe that reading your work to a live audience can tell you as much about a piece of writing as several days, even weeks, of internalising and deliberation.
What if it all goes wrong?
Well, that's very pessimistic of you. But yes, you could fall flat on your face. You might get an audience of literary snobs who, when it comes down to it, don't know their over-writerly arses from their over-writerly elbows. And they might turn their noses up. But who cares? You've had the gumption to get up and do your thang and if they don't like it, that's their problem.
Over the last couple of months I've been to a couple of spoken word nights and twice read posts taken directly from this blog. On one of those occasions I also read the first chapter of my novel, but the other time I was just a blogger with a thing or two to say about the writing process.
And I found it useful. If I went back and wrote those posts again, I might change a few things. But perhaps as important, I got just the same buzz out of performing as I do when I read my fiction. Plus the audience seemed to dig it.
I'm still here. Nothing terrible happened. You should give it a try.