In Chapter 13, Maxwell, the narrator of the story, describes Freak's efforts to help him improve his reading and writing skills. Maxwell struggles especially with writing. He says that when he tries to write his hand "feels so huge and clumsy," and that the pencil he tries to write with feels like "a piece of spaghetti ... and ... keeps slipping away." Freak tries to help Maxwell by suggesting that he should think of writing just "like talking." This seems to be good advice. Indeed, many people who struggle with writing struggle because they think that their writing needs to be overly formal and stylized. When Freak tries to convince Maxwell that writing is "like talking," he is trying to get Maxwell to simply write as he speaks, and not to overthink what he writes. Despite this good advice, however, Maxwell still struggles when it comes to writing.
Maxwell has much more success when it comes to overcoming his difficulties with reading. Freak again gives him good advice. When describing reading, Freak tells Maxwell to think of it as "just a way of listening." This is a good description because if, when reading, you can imagine the words being spoken, then reading does indeed become another form of listening, and everybody can listen. Indeed, Maxwell responds well to Freak's description of reading because he says he "could always listen." Freak builds on this description of reading when he says that Maxwell should think of the words on the pages as "just voices on paper."