A quill cured my dyslexia


I don’t normally write this sort of thing it’s a tad too personal. Obviously it’s not been cured by using a quill. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression either, being dyslexic is not the end of the world. Although it’s classed as a disability it’s a long way from being the worst. I would much rather be dyslexic than say blind or have muscular dystrophy. It hasn’t stopped me doing what I want in life, although I have had to work a lot harder because of it.

Those who are dyslexic can vary a great deal in how it affects them. I can read very well, in fact I read a lot. Occasionally I’ll skip a word and miss the sense of a sentence and have to re-read a few times until I’ve got it right. My biggest problem comes with spelling and hand writing. My hand writing is terrible, in order to make it readable I have to print and write slowly. I find fountain pens fantastic for this, and now have a collection of them. I even secretly use quills you dip in ink at home, this not only helps improve my legibility but feeds my Harry Potter obsession. Please don’t tell anyone about this I get teased enough about Harry Potter as it is! Nowadays bad handwriting doesn’t cause me too many problems as I can word process almost everything. The only time I get problems when I need to write a quick note or I’m being observed in my lessons, I’m very careful not to write on my board when that happens.

Spelling is a big problem for me, of course nowadays spell checks have made my life a lot easier. What is very odd about my spelling is how inconsistent it is. Some days it’s not bad, like today I’m not making many mistakes typing this. Some days however I struggle to spell my own name correctly, any type of stress and it goes out of the window. If I’m being observed while teaching I usually type a list of any words I might need, but if that fails and a student asks for a spelling I have my emergency fall back of ‘rather than me just telling you I’ll help you look it up in a dictionary.’ Spelling doesn’t cause me too many problems when writing a book as I can always use the spell check and if that fails ask my wife!

My biggest problem is word blindness it’s quite hard to explain and even harder to understand. It affects me in two ways. Firstly some words I find hard to distinguish; for years I couldn’t tell the difference between does and dose, they used to look the same to me, I would just pick one hoping I got the right one when writing. Now I’ve trained myself to tell the difference but it took me a long time. I had to stop and stare at it every time I write to make sure I’ve used the right one. The one I struggle with most now is were and where. I can’t tell the difference between them and when writing I pick one at random with the hope I’m going to be right occasionally. My new plan to get over this is to carry the definition around on a card with both words that way I can make the right choice.

The other way this affects me is when I don’t write what I think I’ve written for example the sentence;

He pulled out his wand and with a look of pure terror, cast the spell

May get written as

He pulled his wand and a look pure terror cast spell

The sentence has total lost its meaning but when I read it back because I can remember what I wanted it to say my brain inserts the missing words as I read it. I was once told by a specialist teacher I don’t read every word just the key ones and make up the others! I now have to leave what I’ve written, wait until I’ve forgotten what it’s supposed to say then check it. If its work related then that can be just a few days but when it’s my book it has to be a lot longer. I’ve taken two months off writing it and now I’ve come back I’m inwardly cringing at how bad it is with all the missed out words. With this article I’ll have to leave it for at least two days before I can edit, possibly longer. I am willing to bet I still missed several mistakes. I might cheat and send it to a friend of mine to check.

Well there it is a bit of a moan feast, I hope I haven’t made you feel sorry for me because I don’t feel sorry for myself. I thought I would have a go at writing something very personal for a change. Please give me some feedback as to how the article comes over and there’s a prize for the person who spots the most mistakes. Did I mention I was a terrible liar as well?


103 thoughts on “A quill cured my dyslexia

    1. Thanks your very kind but as I said in my article it’s not a major problem I wasn’t writing for sympathy. I wanted to have a go at writing something a bit different, a lot of blogs I’ve been reading suggest getting out of your comfort zone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve certainly been inspired by many people, none of whom I have sympathy for. But I’m with you, Eric: I have a hard time taking compliments (though I’ve gotten better over the years with practice).

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for sharing Eric 🙂 You must have picked the two worst things to do, teaching and writing, with dyslexia! However, all credit to you for having the strategies in place to help manage things and working with it. Very insightful and I never knew that about fountain pens (all great writers write with nibs as Lindsay does too ;)). Hope you continue to enjoy the story telling!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think both teaching and writing are perfect things to do if you have dyslexia, as long as you are honest with yourself and others. Students do need to know this, i would say, so that they don’t think error corrections on their written work are 100% thorough; but I believe this will inspire students to write all the more, as well as build the confidence to think, “Maybe I can be a writer, as well.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No I didn’t feel sorry for you at all Eric…just the feeling of wanting to squeeze you tight like a little care bear. lol You know, Tom Cruise had dyslexia…look at him now! I am learning, it doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have, what matters is the effort and integrity you put into whatever you choose to do and the joy and inspiration others get out of your efforts. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I know a few people with dyslexia who have chosen to write blogs and/ or books, Eric, and I think it’s a sign of indomitable courage and character to be able to do that. What strength and spirit to refuse to be defined or dominated by your ‘disability’… how could I feel sorry for anyone who can do that? Rather, we should feel awed and inspired. I’m glad you wrote this post, it helps us to understand. All the best to you. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Eric. I learned something about dyslexia, but more so was fascinated to see how your creative mind works. I love the image of you writing with a quill – it makes me want to try it too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eric, I have many thoughts on this. In addition to being a mentor, author and writer, I have also spent decades working in specialized education, primarily with language and reading. However, for now, I’m just going to share one thing with you:

    The word “WHERE” has “HERE” hidden in it. Generally, “where” signifies a location. “Here” is a possible location. So when deciding between “were” and “where,” just look for the location word. If “here” is in the word, it’s the location word “where” you are wanting. I wish I could draw that out for you, since I tend to teach visually and not with more language.

    You also may enjoy THIS POST, which I wrote for another blogging site. It’s about using right-brain function to distinguish between “trouble words” in spelling, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share it with you.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No! Please don’t! Repetition is a use of left-brain function, which is exactly the problem: the left side of the brain was not designed for long-term learning without extensive and exact repetition, whereas the right side of the brain, which cannot store language at all, stores things in ways the memory remembers automatically.

        I just took a few minutes to make you a picture, which I added to the comments section below the post I referenced earlier. Here’s the direct link to that image and mini-lesson I just created: CLICK HERE.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. So glad to hear it, Eric! Thanks for dropping a note to let me know. And I hope it inspires new possibilities for visual approaches that might demystify other spellings that “get you.” If I can ever help in that way, feel free to drop me a line. I’ll do my best.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I guess i’m not taking any prizes today because i did not spot any mistake :D. This is a great article and i’m glad i came across it. I loved your explanation concerning mixing up certain words and you explained pretty well. As a medical student interested in Neuro, i found this highly interesting . Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really interesting and clear. No wonder you’re a teacher and a writer. I’m not dyslexic myself, but have known people who were and as you say, it affects different people in different ways. One had few problems with words but was hopeless at finding his way even in familiar streets. Another has no such problem, but bad spelling and a tendency, if you email two or three questions, to answer one and be totally unaware of the other two.

    Fascinating that old writing technology helps you! Maybe the increase in people recognised as dyslexic is not just down to better understanding of the condition?

    Another interesting point is that your example of the sentence made incomprehensible could easily be a line of poetry, by some poets at least (says I, a poet).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eric, your post is not only inspiring, it’s very timely for me. I have a grandson who has reading difficulties. I suspect he is dyslexic though don’t know for sure. I’m passing on your blog link to his dad. Thank you for sharing!


  9. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Dyslexia seems bad enough! I hate it when I see I’ve typed the wrong word; lately it’s been wonder vs wander and they’re, there, & their. Those all started after reading an article that talked about easily confused words. I guess my brain got jealous and figured if everyone else was doing, I should too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. my dyslexia is similar to what you describe…and you teach??? wow!!! awesome dude…many students have been inspired by you even if you wasn’t told…my dyslexia has gotten worst as I’ve aged…I also have problems with products with similar labels…it’s I like I see what I desire yet end up with the wrong item…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I very much identify with your experiences here. I am sort of dyslexic. I am actually what is called dysgraphic which is like the parent of dyslexia. I will swap letters and not see it. With my novel, my editor has discovered I switched quiet with quite and didn’t even realize it. I also get the whole rushed sentence thing where I skip words that my brain has filled in. I’m also bad about writing things almost Yoda like. Instead of “First this, then that” I write it as “That, but first this” both correct but one more common than the other. My hand writing is horrific as well.

    Stress is a big huge factor for me and dysgraphia gets the better of me then, but I have the added joy of mixing numbers up I’ll hear 432 and end up typing 342 not realizing I have it wrong. I also get confused on left vs. right and the hand gestures like bed make little sense to me. I actually use a callus on my finger to help with that.

    It is nice to see another blogger/writer who has similar struggles doing well despite the ‘hindrance’ we have to work around. It’s hard work but worth it in the end. When reading do you some times have slight issues with tracking like if it is a wall of text you use like a book mark to ‘highlight’ the line you are one or even use the highlight function when reading on a computer. I sometimes find that tracking words and sentences on a computer screen to be more difficult than a book. I highlight a lot on the computer to help me see the words better.

    Best of luck to you as you continue to work with your dyslexia!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have to be honest here, I love reading and a need of mine is to understand what is expressed. I often re-read sentences looking to see if I understood the nuances in a novel in context to everything else I read. In conversation, and written words, we often have to pull out the meaningful words for our own understanding. (written words give us this chance where voice we have to brave and say ‘I missed your words, or meanings’)
    We never, truly, get to understand how something affects another without language.

    Myself — at most diagnosed ‘mild depressive and mild anxiety disorder’. I find encouragement when I see someone using whatever element they behold and providing a more thoughtful, provoking, compassionate understanding.

    To me, you’re telling of this attempts this! I’m certain it makes you a good teacher. A teacher needs empathy for their student to understand their difficulties and inspire them to work on their unique difficulties.

    I use photography to look at the world in a different language. It’s my paintbrush; my light. If you use a quill then do so. I use a paintbrush that is really a sensor. It’s myself using my mind! Obviously, my depression is not cured by taking that image; it’s by me. So use the quill, write your words, and if you need, ask your wife for edits! I do that, too! I have to ask, ‘is this me just depressed saying this?’

    Then I have to ask those not so biased towards me, is this work good?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have no problems with spelling, in fact misspellings can actually cause me pain – which made having two daughters with dysgraphia more than a bit of a challenge for me. Fortunately for all of us, I love my daughters more than I care about correct spellings. It is still painful to me (I don’t know why, it just is), but I have worked very hard at accepting them, their writing, and the fact that the world is not run exclusively for my comfort. So I keep my mouth shut, unless one of my spelling-challenged friends *asks* for my help, and I do appreciate posts such as yours, which encourage me to be a more loving and accepting reader, er, person. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My husband is a writer with dyslexia, and he finds that revision is easier if he reads what he originally wrote from the bottom up. (In other words, he reads the last sentence he wrote and moves backward, sentence by sentence, through a piece in that way, in order to “trick” his brain into not remembering what’s coming next.)

    For what it’s worth! Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. A fascinating glimpse into your writing (and head). I’m sure that dyslexia is a spectrum, as I always mix up the order of numbers when I try to remember phone numbers. Also, when I write (esp. by hand), I occasionally mix up the order of the letters. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks for following my blog – cause and effect, here I am on the doorstep of yours.:)
    I’m fascinated by workings of the mind, I consider myself brain damaged (wrote about it in the link below) That said, I’m the same person, just have to make some logistical adjustments, no big deal. What’s important is acknowledgement and positive attitude, attributes you proudly possess. Happy to have found your blog.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. My middle son used to get horrible ear infections. Fortunately antibiotics work miracles within a very short time.All the same, sounds like you’ve been through the wringer.I wish both of you well.


  17. Hi.

    First I’d like to say thanks for reading a few of my posts. I certainly appreciate your time.

    Secondly, I too I’m dyslexic and have similar issues like you: skipping words and having to reread; spelling words incorrectly because the brain switches letters around; not seeing mistakes immediately since my brain knows what the sentence should say and inserts the words as I read even if they aren’t actually there.

    All these issues make for very slow reading but I still love to read. It just means I’ll take twice as long 😦

    The thing is, I was not aware there was a name for my problem until early adulthood (moving from the Caribbean to the States) but it’s good to know what it is and how to work around it.

    I was a successful student throughout all my school life so I know dyslexia isn’t the end of the world I just need to take a different route to get to my destination.

    Thanks for sharing your story. You’re certainly not alone.

    Have a great week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You are amazing! I’ve been reading your posts and had no idea of what goes into getting them into shape for all of us to enjoy. You must be a really good teacher, too, because people who have to work hard at something understand the many phases involved in the learning process. Keep writing and don’t worry unless the cat starts licking your toes! Bad omen!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve no idea how I missed this post the first time around. However, I’m so very pleased you mentioned it in your recent post. Like you, I have dyslexia as well. I always allowed it to stop me from writing. Then I discovered WordPress and got the biggest amount of support I’d ever encountered when I wrote a post about being dyslexic.

    I have many of the same problems as you do when it comes to reading and writing. I cringe so much when submitting comments on other blogs and then notice I’ve missed words out. I usually read comments over and over again before I submit them yet I still can not pick up that certain words have been left out! It’s the same when writing posts. I will read, reread and reread. Then I’ll ask my partner to read the post and watch as he picks out all the mistakes.

    However, we are both doing something which we both have a passion for and are not letting dyslexia get in our way. I think that is something to be celebrated.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Eric, just read this post again. Not many structural problems found the second time around. Believe me, unless it’s a bad mess up, no one will pick up writing mistakes. Bravo for a well thought out writing. It’s not easy writing personal stuff. I found Erik’s post very interesting. Using the right brain to remember words is genius. I remember the pictures! I’m left- brain dominant. As a copyeditor this works for me. But as a student years ago, I remembered facts visually with acronyms and pictures. Happy writing, Eric. You have a great writing style! Chryssa

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Perhaps I should give my daughter a quill, and some ink, she has terrible problems spelling too, but even though she has some difficulties she has a lot going for her, dyslexic people tend to. Often they tend to be more creative, and think out of the box. I’m sure you do too.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Having a quick read through your blog this article really caught my eye. Sounds like your dyslexia presents similarly to mine. I’m also dyspraxic(sp?) which I find more challenging in my day to day activities. My mother has both, as does one of my brothers and my eldest all at varying levels. My other brother and my youngest both have dyslexia without dyspraxia. It’s actually one of the reasons behind my name but I’ll save that for a blog post of my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I am dyspraxic although my younger brother is. All said and done it’s only a label I think what matters is how you live with it. I look forward to reading your post about it.


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