The Dyslexic Writer Workshop with Jessica Marie Baumgartner

Welcome to the Dyslexic Writer Workshop, hostd by Jessica Marie Baumgartner. Jessica the author award winning author of the “Embracing Entropy” series and a current member of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. Her work has been featured in a wide variety of publications including: “The Society of Misfit Stories,” “Outposts of Beyond,” “The Lorelei Signal,” and many more.

Jessica Marie Baumgartner

Jessica has prepared this twenty-minute video to discuss the challenges of writing with dyslexia and offer practical advice on how to overcome this condition. She will be available between 2 PM and 3 PM EDT on Saturday, August 18th to answer questions and offer more specific advice. You can watch the video now, and then bring your questions with you. Please note that you do not need to be signed in to watch the video, but you do need to be signed in to the eFestival of Words site to post questions.

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59 Replies to “The Dyslexic Writer Workshop with Jessica Marie Baumgartner”

  1. We are coming up to the end of the session, though I am sure Jessica would not mind if you wanted to continue this during her Q & A chat at 3! But for now, Jess…any final thoughts or words of encouragement?

    • I will definitely stay on to talk more. But I want to thank you guys for opening up and want to remind you that all writers struggle. Do what you can and don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help. Writing is it’s own world. Your stories are yours to offer. Translating thought to paper or text isn’t always easy, but you can decipher how best to get it out there.

  2. Do you ever feel guilty when writing main characters that are not dyslexic or neuro-atypical? As if you are an ambassador for your illness and let down the world whenever you don’t infuse your work with your particular truth? I have muscular dystrophy and often feel bad when I don’t include disabled characters in my stories, even if they don’t necessarily have a place there…

    • Good question Koukol,
      You are not your characters. Sometimes I do think about it but I am the opposite. I’m afraid to misrepresent other dyslexics, so I rarely write them and have dragged my feet trying to publish a story with a dyslexic. Haha

      • I’ve been known to occasionally amputate the limbs of characters just for the heck of it.

  3. Jess it just occurred to me that if you can’t access the workshop chat you might not be able to access the Author Q & A chat. Do you want me to direct folks here? This is scheduled to run until 3 and then your Q & A is from 3 to 3:30.

  4. Besides “don’t do it” do you have any advice for self-editing? Working with an editor is the best case scenario but many publications don’t put a lot of effort into developing authors and basically just do a proofread.

    • Self-edits are kind of unavoidable. haha Locking the work away for 6 months is definitely a huge help. Also, testing out writing programs may be a good idea, with or without that spellcheck alone will catch some things. (Not all, you can’t just rely on that.)

      • So while a project is fermenting for six months you are working on other stuff? I would think this is hard if you are working on a series or a trilogy or something.

  5. OK I have another question. Do you have troubles with other writers who don’t have dyslexia taking you seriously? I tried explaining to my current writing group that I hace dyslexia and a couple of them won’t critique me stories because they aren’t up to there standards 🙁

    • We can start an online writing group! I;ve had similar problems with people like that!

    • I struggled with that at first. It’s difficult to explain to another author, “Hey, my brain is weird.” haha

      If you’re having trouble finding a critique group that engages you and your work, try finding some online indie writers. The indie community is pretty close. Especially on twitter. We know what’s up.

      I rip on self-published authors sometimes, but they are really the nicest, most helpful authors I’ve worked with because they understand how difficult this industry can be.

      • Also doing what you can to train yourself to weed out the mishaps is very important. You can’t just say, “Well, I’m dyslexic,” and use that as an excuse. Making sure to fine tune your work as best as possible is essential.

        That means setting your stories aside and editing later. It means finding a second pair of eyes to go over everything, and unfortunately for people like us, it mean sometimes paying an editor before you even test the work out on beta readers.

        • Yeah this is what I really need to work on more but I had hoped the critique group could at leasr make sure I was going in the right direction before investing a lot of time in polishing if that makes sense.

  6. Jess, I just wanted to tell you that when you mentioned sitting on a book for six months I felt like I was listening to myself. I give that advice ALL the time to writers and follow that myself.I think that is valuable advice whether you are dyslexic or not!

    • Thanks! I’m not the first writer to say it I’m sure. It does make a huge difference.

  7. Are there any special writing exercises you would recommend for authors or online resources to use?

    • Sure Zina,
      First off, a simple spellchecker is your best friend. But 2nd come exercises or more like practices. I don’t consider any of my writing time practice. It is all craft to me.

      • I prefer to write in the middle of the day where my mind is most awake, well fed, and observant. I think every writer should test out when their brain works best.

        • Also words puzzles are great exercise. I LOVE crosswords, find a words, and word jumbles. Those really test my brain and sharpen my skills.

        • Damnit that would be five minutes before bedtime. THAT is when my mind starts racing lol

          • Try it! You might find yourself a blaze of creativity and write something unforgettable.

  8. My question is do you use a dictation program or feel a dictation program would b helpful to a dyslexic autor?

    • I do not, because I longhand and THEN type everything. I find that alone helps. I can write out my story and then really fix it as I type it and go from there.

  9. I think this is the first real tech issue of the weekend so GOOD JOB JULIE! lol

  10. OK. First thank you for the video. You are very inspirational! You sdaid that it is ok to tell people you have dyslexia. For a writer is that something you should mention in a query letter or when you send the submission.

    • Ooo good question Teena,
      It depends on the query. I think it’s important to address it when seeking an agent, but with story submissions to publications it should be case by case.

      • OK so for example not to embarrass Julie or anything but I know they use a scorecard and grammar is one of the factors they consider for submissions. In that case would you recommend mentioning it so the slush readers take that into consideration?

        • Definitely. I didn’t when I first submitted to them, but another trick is working it into your bio and just adding that at the bottom of your submission. That’s worked best for me lately.

          • I also liked that your teacher said your brain was just to fast for your hands. That is so me partularly when I am typing lol

  11. Folks, Jess is having technical issues so post your questions here instead. Please note that you will need to refresh the page to see replies. We apologize for the inconvenience but the show will go on!

  12. Just wanted to let folks know that they can post questions here for Jessica, but she will also be in the dedicated chatroom starting at 2 PM to answer questions as well.The Dyslexic Writer chatroom can be found directly below the forum clock on the right column (if you are on a computer) or at the bottom of the screen if on a tablet or smartphone.

  13. Unfortunately I won’t be here for the live chat because I work retail and have to head out but I hope it is alright to post my question here? My daughter has dyslexia and while she does well in school, she is terrified about her entrance essays for college. I’ve been telling her it is important to include her condition in her essay but she’s a teenager and knows more than me (eyeroll). But I appreciated you mentioning that it is ok to tell people. What sort of advice can you give her either about noting her condition or making sure her essay is where it needs to be?

    • Hi April,
      I would definitely encourage her to ask someone from the high school English department to go over it with her if she doesn’t want to disclose that she is dyslexic. An extra pair of eyes is always good, and most schools have aids on hand to offer advice. If she is willing, she can reach out to the colleges and explain herself instead of putting it in the paper if she’s looking for alternatives.