Tag Archives: verbal processor

Auto Parts & My Writing Support Group

(My last post celebrated hitting 200 followers and then I promptly lost 2 of them. So we’ll get to celebrate 200 again sometime!) 

If you’ve read my post about being a verbal processor, you know that writing is a verbal process for me. Or sometimes not so verbal. I usually bug some poor victim (aka, friend) with constant Facebook messages asking, “Does this make sense?” and “What if I tweaked it some to say…” 

While their feedback provides invaluable assistance, I really just need a sounding board to get the idea out of my head and onto paper. To that end, yesterday I gained not just one sounding board, but a whole store full of them. 

One of my old roommates works at an auto parts store. I was trying to simplify a tricky legal concept so I kept bugging her to see if her smart, but non-legal brain understood it. She assured me she did. However, to make sure it really was understandable, she would then read my sentence/paragraph/analogy to the guys working her shift with her. Her logic was that if they understood it, anyone could. 

I wish I could say my writing passed remarkable muster and I’m a genius at simplifying complex ideas. I don’t think that is the case. However, there is now an auto parts store in Tennessee with workers who know a lot about administrative law. Or at least they pretend to. But I’m going to pretend my baseball analogy is just that clear. 

The Auditory Learner

For most of my life I was – or thought I was – a visual learner. I like to read and I used to process convoluted or theoretical passages fairly easily. When focused on something, I could block out all the noise around me. Because of this, I learned to study like a visual learner. I took copious notes, used different colored pens and highlighters for different subjects, and recorded assignments on note pads and on check lists to make sure I remembered them all. 

As I prepared for law school, I implemented all my usual habits. However this time around, they did not work like they used to. I didn’t understand why until I took a Learning Styles test and discovered I am an extremely Auditory Learner. In fact, while Visual Learning came in second, it scored half the effectiveness of when I learned audibly. 

How do you recognize an auditory learner? Here are a few descriptors*: 

  • Talks to self, aloud
  • Enjoys talking
  • Easily distracted
  • Has difficulty with written directions 
  • Memorizes sequentially 
  • Whispers to self while reading 
  • Distracted by noise
  • Outgoing by nature

This list hits too close to home! Who would guess my learning style is the reason I memorize sequentially? It does explain, though, why I’ve struggled so hard over the past few months to study where there is noise. I can’t concentrate even if someone is having a quiet conversation behind me! That is definitely a new problem. 

I am not really sure how to study as an auditory learner. The main recommendation I have seen are study groups, but they don’t work well for me. It is too much like a group project. I’ve started looking up what I’m learning on YouTube and that has been helpful. The Academic Enhancement Program at my school also recommends saying information aloud and then recording it on a tape recorder to play back. 

The weirdest part of transitioning from a primarily visual to auditory learner is how powerless I feel. The old tricks don’t work. I can’t write something out and then understand the subject. I have to talk it through and listen intently. When I read something convoluted, re-reading it doesn’t work. I need to hear the professor explain it to actually get it. While this leaves me somewhat frustrated, I’m glad I know this about myself now. I think it will make next semester a lot easier. 

Then again, I am a verbal processor. Why am I shocked that I am also an auditory learner? 


*See https://www.webtools.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ 

Thinking It Through: Life as a verbal processor

“Verbal processors speak to clarify thoughts.

Non-verbal processors think before they speak.”


Do you ever have a moment where you hear something new and suddenly everything clicks? That is how I felt when I read the above words. I am a verbal processor. Even basic concepts feel slightly intangible to me until I can say them out loud. I now understand why I need to tell people about random, trivial moments in my day; why I feel a pressure to tell all my new ideas to someone immediately; why I have an obsession with sharing every new interest that comes my way; even why I like writing. When I write, I mouth the words, often repeating them out loud. Doing this helps me make sense of my world.

I fully grasp things only when I can get them outside of my head. Some people have this amazing superpower where they can have an idea, leave it their head, and magically it develops into a full-grown understanding. That amazes me. If I leave something in my head, it feels like an itch that can’t be scratched. Something eternally, intangibly out of reach. However, if I can pull it out of my head, and throw it at someone (even if that someone is myself), it makes perfect sense. I just need to get it out.

Verbal processors are infamous for thinking out loud and confusing all the non-verbal processors around them. I realize I am immensely guilty of this. I may say, “I want to learn Korean” but what I am also actually saying is, “What are the implications of studying this language? What steps would I need to take? Will I actually have time?” Chances are, I will decide I don’t actually have the resources at the moment to do so, and I will move on. However, to the non-verbal processor who heard me say that, I just went back on my word. I failed to follow-through. This can be aggravating to them as the process repeats itself, and I jump to a new idea, or a new problem. This perception is something I need to be more aware of, though I also ask for grace in the future. It’s how I think!

It also means that when I have a problem, I am not necessarily looking for an answer. An obvious decision might be right before me, but I need to talk my way through the problem to find it. I might appear to be rambling, or “random,” but in a very real sense the puzzle comes together in my head with each seemingly unconnected train of thought. To a non-verbal processor the puzzle fits together inside their mind. To me, the pieces remain dim and fuzzy until I can express them verbally.

If you have ever been in the room with me while I tried to write a paper, you’ve definitely seen me do this. I’ll run into the room and read a sentence out loud, then go back to my corner and promptly delete it. Or I will switch words around. Or I will leave it and then pester you with the next sentence. It isn’t so much that I want an opinion, though affirmation certainly helps, as I need to get the words out of my head, off the paper, and into my brain. Hence, this is why I’m a terror to be around while I write.

My hope in writing this is to provide a better grasp of how I look at the world, and maybe connect with others who struggle to have their need for rambling understood. If I barrage you with a series of seemingly meaningless stories or appear to inconsistently throw ideas around, I don’t mean to confuse you. I genuinely am trying to figure out how it all fits together. Thank you to every single introvert who has unknowingly functioned as my “sounding wall” over the past 21 years. (Especially my immediate family, Claire, and Kris. Y’all rock)

I strongly recommend going up to the top and following the link to Scott Reyes’s article. His entire blog is helpful!