Thursday, 11 August 2011

Have You Had Your Daily 20,000?

Research, using MRI scans, has revealed that the auditory and language-related regions in the left hemisphere of the brain are much larger in women than in men. This is frequently trotted out to ‘explain’ why women allegedly talk more. On a Neuro-Linguistic Programming course, I was taught that women have a necessity to get through 20,000-24,000 words per day (on average) while their male counterparts only need to utter a paltry 7000-10,000.

As might be imagined there is a fair amount of debate over this and some of it is highly entertaining. If you want to enjoy a couple of hours of laughter coupled with ‘ah –ha!’ moments, try Allan and Barbara Pease http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Listen-Women-Cant-Read/dp/0752846191/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313061804&sr=8-2
Or if you prefer a more scholarly approach, try Prof Mark Liberman from the University of Pennsylvania http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003420.html
The reason I am bringing this up today is because I have been wondering whether all these words we have to get through actually have to be uttered vocally. I count a productive day of writing to be when I have got 4000+ words of my latest work in progress safely down on paper. Does that mean I have already ‘spoken’ 4000 of my daily word-count – or do l still have to find them from somewhere in order to inflict them on my poor beleaguered husband?

If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, does an artist still have to talk about his/her latest masterpiece until they have got through their quota for the day, or can they just let it speak for them?

I don’t have the answers but I do know that on days when I am cracking on with my story, I definitely talk less. Words are pouring out of my brain – but they are transmitting themselves through my fingers rather than my mouth – leaving me fulfilled, satisfied and not possessed of the slightest need to pick up the telephone and chatter inanely for hours on end. I would be interested to know if other writers have this experience.

As a footnote, Prof Liberman has concluded that women actually don’t talk any more than men and any belief that they do is pure urban myth. The debate goes on…

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