do verbal skills decline as writing skills improve?

is it just me, or have others noticed how hard it is to talk? over the years i've noticed a sharp decline in my verbal skills. it seems that i process thoughts differently than i processed them in my pre-writing days. now conversation comes to me as an idea which is then followed by brain text, followed by a choice of text such as what i might want to edit or change, then the realization that people are waiting for a reply -- all of this before trying to spit out a coherent sentence. it's as if my brain is now much more equipped to deal with text rather than live conversation.

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I have the WORST time with conversations. I'm often struck dumb when I have tons of ideas and a riveting conversation I want to be part of. Then I go back and think how I should write the person a letter or email. It's awful. Especially since it means I botch most attempts at actual adult contact! Then it becomes a vicious cycle: writing stories in between children's needs leads to my inability to talk, which further alienates other grown-ups, which makes me want to write more stories... yikes. By next year I'll be a hermit.
christa, i shudder to think what a face-to face conversation between the two of us would be like. we could bring our laptops and just email each other. :D

but that's EXACTLY what i'm talking about. you step into a completely different world, and suddenly it's sensory overload.
I think what you plan to say always comes out wrong, or not the way you planned it. Hemingway made a career of writing stories about people not being able to say what they intended to. You get a big argument in your head, and you practice it, but then it comes out and it's all wrong, in part because the other person reacts a way you hadn't planned on. C'est la vie, I guess.
Can't say I've experienced that, and the thought of it makes my head hurt, but then I've never had very good speaking skills anyway (btw, sorry, I have a diction/grammar sickness, but you mean speaking or oral/oratory skills, as verbal can be writing too. sorry to criticize, it's a compulsion). So you actually edit in your head before you say something?
verbal can be writing? i didn't know that!

yes, i edit in my head before i say anything. so there's too much going on. If it's a face to face conversation, and possibly a group of people, the visual component also comes into play.
Well, at least you don't have to worry about saying something without thinking first.

And teachers have told me that verbal means words, which can be spoken or written, so the term "verbal contract", for example, is often used incorrectly to refer specifically to a spoken agreement. It doesn't have anything to do with what you're talking about, and I'm not trying to take this thread off-subject, but it would drive me nuts if I didn't say it.
I heard David Baldacci speak last month at the ALA conference in Washington, D.C., and he told a great story about the oral/verbal distinction, having been dressed down by a senior partner at the law firm where he was an associate. A few days before his first novel (ABSOLUTE POWER) sold for big bucks, the partner chastised him for using "verbal" in a memo, when he should have written "oral." "We won'd tolerate such sloppiness," he was told. And the next day inter-office mail brought Baldacci a copy of a book "How to Write Better."

The following day, with a copy of the Wall Street Journal story announcing the record-breaking sale of a first novel in one hand, and a copy of "How to Write Better" in the other, he went into the partner's office and announced "I can't tell you how much this book has changed my life!"
heh! what a great story, ken!
My question for Anne would be: as your writing life has taken off, do you find yourself talking less? I've written four books, collected and edited one anthology, and produced a few short stories all within the the last three years, and I haven't really experienced what Anne is describing.

On the other hand, my day gig is teaching ancient history to 8th grade students, and collectively they don't give a fig how much deathless prose I've produced, they only care whether or not my class is "fun." So I'm engaging verbally with my students and colleagues like there's no tomorrow over the course of my work day, and if anything, I have to work hard during my off-time to get into that "writing head space." It's gotten easier with practice, but it's still not like flipping a switch.
Sorry, off-topic, but what kind of ancient history do you teach, I mean specifically? Just curious. I love history myself, though I didn't when I was in 8th grade.
What "kind"? You mean which era/area/culture? This is eighth grade, so it's not specialized. It's world history and we go from the end of the Neolithic era until 1400 AD, the "official" beginning of the Renaissance (not my designation, just an acknowledgment that this is when the course ends).
Yes, I do talk much less, so that could be a big part of the problem. Use it or lose it.


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