Writing and reading tips and tools


Reading tips

Writing tips

Strategies for the Reluctant Writer (Understood)

7 Great Ways to Encourage Your Grade-Schooler’s Writing (Understood)

How to Help Your Tween Get the Writing Bug (Understood)

A dyslexic author’s writing tips for dyslexic kids (Tom McLaughlin, The Guardian, 2015)


How to cut wordiness

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story

4 ways to look like a writer (file this under humour)

Writing tools

Graphic organizers to help kids with writing (Understood)

Grammarly – Free grammar checker – https://www.grammarly.com/

TERMIUM – The Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank

The Canadian Style guide

British Dyslexia Association 2018 Dyslexia Style Guide

Designing content for web accessibility – UK Home Office


Teaching creative writing to dyslexic students – online courses for teachers and parents (Rebecca Gee, Writer’s Studio)

Kids Write workshops for schools in Brooklyn (New York, USA) students (Writer’s Studio)

Dyslexic writers talk about writing

Dyslexia and why I couldn’t be a writer without it (Catherine Deveny)

Jackie French (website)

Mary Avery Kabrich (website)

Sally Gardner: Ten Tips for a Dyslexic Thinker (like me)

With dyslexia, words failed me and then save me – Philip Schultz (Pulitzer Prize winning poet)

John Irving (Award-winning author & Screenwriter)

  • “One reason I have confidence in writing the kind of novels I write is that I have confidence in my stamina to go over something again and again no matter how difficult it is—whether it is for the fourth or fifth or eighth time. It’s an ability to push myself and not be lazy. This is something that I would ascribe to the difficulties I had to overcome at an early age.”

My top tips for writing

1. First, get comfortable. At the very minimum, when I’m working at home, I always wear pants (not all do – here’s John Cheever on why he wrote in his underwear). wikiHow suggests you should dress “slightly nostalgic.” While I like eating pie while I write, I don’t want to smell like it.
2. This is very important. Make a cup of coffee. This will make you feel like a writer, as any writer worth their salt is always hopped up on caffeine.
3. Get mentally prepared. Banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary.
4. Think about the what: “What do I want to say? What do I need to say?” It’s important to identify your main message(s), and stick to it. For example, “I want to write a story about the time my dog ate my report.” Or, “I have to write an email to my boss telling her my dog ate my report.”
5. Now think about how you want to say it. Look at the work of some famous writers. At the Writer’s Studio (a method developed by dyslexic writer & Pulitzer prize winning poet Philip Schultz), all exercises are based on emulating the work of another writer. The idea is that you are probably already very creative, and have lots of ideas, you just need some way to structure your writing in order to get those ideas onto paper. This also works for professional writing. Take a look at reports or web content written by a trusted colleague. Follow their lead.
6. Start writing: Don’t overthink this part. Slap your ideas on paper. Forget grammar and spelling or even finding that perfect word (ee cummings didn’t follow the rules, and he’s considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century). Keep writing until you can’t write anymore. Until your fingers are numb and it feels like blood is running from your eyes. If it’s 2 paragraphs or 2 pages.
7. Take a break. Make another cup of coffee.
8. Keep writing! (this may take several days, weeks, or (sadly) years depending on your speed and your deadline)
9. Done your first draft? Take an afternoon nap. Most writers are night hawks anyway.
10. Now it’s time to revise! Go back and reread what you’ve written. Edit once. Edit twice. Three times. Still not happy with it? Put it away. Look at it in a day or two. Everything looks better in the morning, unless it looks worse, then you have to start again.
11. Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far, you are now a tortured artist. Welcome to the club.