Stephen Cannell scripted 450 episodes and produced over 1,500 episodes over the course of his career working in television. Following that, he became a successful American author and mystery novelist. Cannell’s career was built around his impressive creative writing skills- skills that he thought he lacked all the way up until his sophomore year of college. Stephen Cannell was dyslexic, and went through all of his schooling and part of his career undiagnosed.

Before the time he graduated high school, Cannell had failed three grades. Constantly being told he wasn’t applying himself or studying enough by his parents and teachers, Cannell simply thought he was stupid. He loved to write, but because his spelling was so bad he reverted to only writing words he knew how to spell in papers and essays. Because of his poor spelling abilities, Cannell never used the full extent of his vocabulary in writing until college. Then in his sophomore year at the University of Oregon, Cannell had a creative writing professor who told him to write beyond his spelling capabilities. Without the fear of being criticized for his poor spelling, Cannell excelled in writing and graduated with a degree in journalism.

Cannell went on to write or co-write some of America’s favorite TV dramas of the late 1900s, such as The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, and The Rockford Files. By the end of his career, he had become the third biggest producer in television. In the late 1990s, he entered the publishing world by releasing the novel The Plan. This would be the first of 18 novels Cannell would write.

In a series of videos, Cannell talks about his everyday experience living with dyslexia, and how he could maintain a career that revolved around writing. He explains that he wrote every script or chapter out phonetically, not allowing his spelling to obstruct any creative ideas or word choices from being added the page. It wasn’t until Cannell was well into his career that he was officially diagnosed with dyslexia. Once diagnosed, he regularly spoke out about the learning disability and even helped produce a documentary based on his own experiences, titled Disleckia: The Movie.

Visit Stephen Cannell’s website to watch his video series on dyslexia.