the un-art of subvocalizing

5:05 AM


Last February if I recall, I did a post on me being insecure about writing. Turns out, I have to say that I am also very insecure when it comes to my reading life. (I’m just a very insecure human being, what can you do?)

I read very slow. A page a minute or more, I’d say. It’s not that I want to be competitive, but reading does take huge chunks of time. Think about it: if I could read a page in thirty seconds, then I could read around 120 pages an hour as opposed to the 50 or 60 pages I can crack in an hour. (What. ME. Doing math. Amazing, right?)

So I went online, desperate to learn why I was reading, in my standards, ‘slow’, and how I could read faster to be able to condense my reading time by hours. And I got my answer = subvocalization.

So here's my attempt at taking bookish photos?

Now, I don’t really know if it’s a big thing, or if everyone’s aware of it, but me learning that I did subvocalize and that it was becoming a huge, annoying, clinging habit that has stuck to me over the years. Maybe I’m just making a huge deal about this, but I do find it interesting.

So subvocalization is reading the words in your head. I used to think that I was a visual reader, who saw the scenes in my head as my eyes looked at the words, but it turns out my brain does a two-step process: I hear the words in my head, and THEN I see what the words are trying to show.

Maybe you subvocalize. I think most of us do, because when I went online, there are many reasons as to why we subvocalize, and one major one is because we’re taught to say words when we read. I’m 100% not blaming any parent or educator (education rocks okay!) but the habit of doing so, like I said, was never rid of us.


How can we stop subvocalization? There are apparently a lot of techniques that claim to stop it. For starters, you can drown out your voice in your head by listening to loud instrumental music (or rain. Rain always works) However, if you’re not a music junkie, you can also try counting one to three or reciting the letters a to e as you read. You can try using your pointer finger fast, or forcing yourself to spend one second per line.

Anyway. This is turning out to be a pretty pointless post, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on subvocalization. My reading has gotten a little bit faster by counting one to three, but in all honesty I get very distracted, and just subvert to my usual reading technique.

And maybe that’s okay. It’s definitely inconvenient when time is running so quickly, but it’s a more comfortable atmosphere for me. An atmosphere where I get to savor great writing and test my imagination without pressure. I’d still want to read faster, but as of now I’ve learned I’m pretty okay with how I read. I hope you are, too!


Have you tried any of these tricks — you should probably try them, then tell me if it worked! Thank you for reading this mess of a post. I did try.

AH AND GUYS?! I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT?! IN SIXTEEN / SEVENTEEN WRITING DAYS?! I will be putting up a post on it on June!

- Andrea <3

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5 comments

  1. Huh. Interesting. I'm a very fast reader, so I don't think I have that! But that's very interesting.

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  2. UGH I WANT TO READ FAAAAAST. But I totally subvocalize! Even as I moved my cursor quickly over the lines of your post, I still kept reading the words to myself. XD I'll definitely try this out when I'm reading, but I think it'll be pretty hard for me to change it! :P

    may @ forever and everly

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  3. I did not know that was a thing? That's really interesting. I feel like I maybe do that, but I do not consider myself a slow reader at all...hmmm, something new to think about, thank you!
    Personally, I think you should read as slow as you want. I bet you catch a whole lot more of the story that way!

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  4. This was really interesting! I stopped in the middle of the post and tried to figure out if I subvocalize. I've gotten into a habit of reading things online pretty fast while listening to music with lyrics, so I'm not sure if I do.

    CONGRATS ON THAT FIRST DRAFT! ASDJFKL; I can't wait to hear about it :D

    audrey caylin

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  5. Now I'm reading through this post over and over again trying to figure out if I do subvocalize. I DON'T KNOW. I think I do a little bit?? The problem is, is that when I read, I don't read every single word. (I know, shame) I read probably like 75% of the words, so I'll hear those in my mind, but it's a jerky pattern. Huh. Weird. I don't know. o.O I'll have to research this some more. xD

    katie grace
    a writer's faith

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Hey, amazing human being. Thank you so much for commenting! Be sure to check back for my reply <3