Time to dream, think, re-envision and write–that’s what writers need most. But then for some reason you’re away from your project for a long time–say a few signings, a book tour or holiday. Or even another book.

You need to get back into your story–probably have to reread the whole first part to get your head into the characters but you have, a suitcase to unpack, lunch to make, a microwave to clean, laundry to sort.

Here’s a feature on my Mac that I love to use: Speech.

Tessa, the south African voice, reads my work to me while I do other things. On my Macair, I click the apple, System preferences, Accessibility and then Speech. I chose Tessa because I like the way she reads, it doesn’t sound quite as mechanical or computer like as other voices.Then I select the text I want read and click Alt Esc. Tessa doesn’t pay all that much attention to my punctuation but that’s okay, neither do my young readers.

Sometimes my mind wanders when she reads to me–again so do my young readers’. Or I rush for a pencil to write down things that are wrong so I don’t forget and I miss a part. No matter, Tessa patiently reads to me again when I click Alt Esc.

This feature is also useful after a day of reading someone else’s work, say if I’m editing or story doctoring for another writer, when my eyes are tired of looking at a screen, Tessa again happily steps in.

When you self-edit, which is always kind of an oximoron to me, you need to distance yourself from your story, take it outside your head–and with Tessa reading it ( or Irish Moira or Scottish Fiona, there are many voices to choose from) the words naturally take one step away from you.

Now if she would only make me dinner.

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