Ideas pop into my head all the time: while walking, doing household chores, waiting in a carpool lane, sitting poolside, or even as I’m just falling asleep. If I have paper and pen, great. I can write them down. Or if I have time to pull out my bluetooth keyboard and type them up, cool. We discussed some of my favorite writing tools last week.
But if you have a lot of ideas or a rich, detailed memory comes to you, wouldn’t it be nice to record it fully and quickly, before it evaporates or you’re distracted by something else? If you write fiction and the outline of a short story or an entire scene for your novel comes to you—I’ll bet you’d love to have some way to rapidly, easily stash it away.
Well, you can.
Grab your phone and press record.
You can save your ideas easily and quickly if you write with your voice—it’s a solution for any writer with big goals and little time.
Most phones—iPhone or Android—have a microphone icon on the keyboard, allowing you to speak your thoughts into just about any app. In the last episode, I mentioned the beauty of working in the apps that sync on all devices, like Evernote, Google Keep, Google Docs. You can leverage that same advantage of capturing on the go, but you can use your voice to do the writing.
I’m sure you’ve found this microphone and used it for voice-to-text. I see people using it all the time…just not for writing.
My husband, who is bilingual, discovered he can even switch the globe on his iPhone keyboard to French and dictate notes and thoughts, and it’s worked well…if he wanted to, he could write a love poem in his native tongue without having to remember where all the accents go.
Another iPhone advantage: you should have not only that little microphone-on-the-keyboard option—you also have Siri, who can take dictation for you.
Speak Slowly, Clearly
Though I tend to think most effectively through my fingers, typing my best thoughts on a keyboard, I’ve used voice recording options many times, especially to get out some notes and ideas or even the start of a draft. And I’ve learned to work on my elocution.
You as the writer might be brimming with ideas that spill out at record speed, but for dictation or transcription accuracy, it helps to speak slowly and clearly when using transcription tools of any kind.
Google Voice Typing
In the last episode, I focused on ways to type out ideas. At my website, where the show notes live, I received an excellent comment from Susan, who wrote: “You can also dictate your written notes (or thoughts off the top of your head) right into a Google Doc.”
She talked about its Voice typing feature. I’m so thankful Susan took time to mention that. This dictation device—or, I guess it’s more of a voice-to-text technology/software—allows you to dictate straight into a Google doc so that your notes or a draft is waiting for you when you’re able to get behind a keyboard.
Just click on Tools, then “Voice typing.” You’ll get a big popup microphone icon. Click and start talking. It’s a great way to think and then speak your ideas.
Google Keep’s Voice-to-Text Recorder
Susan pointed out that Google Keep also has a voice recording option.
“Just tap the microphone at the bottom of the screen.” Google Keep records a segment and then instantly transcribes it, giving you the option of saving the audio recording or deleting it after you have the transcription it produces, which is pretty nifty.
Evernote and Voxer have similar features. If you have Voxer Pro and you’re an English-speaker, you can use their voice-to-text transcription.
Evernote can record your voice and save that as an audio file, or you can use the keyboard microphone, as I mentioned before, to capture dictation directly into a note. It’ll be saved in a note for you to open later.
Another approach to capturing content using your voice, is to record an audio file on some kind of recording device, then send it off to be transcribed.
Simply open a voice recorder app on your phone—or download one if your phone doesn’t already have one. Speak your thoughts and ideas into it, then click save. You can transcribe it several ways:
- listen to it and transcribe it yourself
- send it off to a paid transcription service like Rev.com or Trint.com
- hire someone to transcribe it – a friend of mine does this on a limited basis
The nice thing about simply recording yourself speaking is that you don’t have to say the punctuation. When dictating, you have to say the word “comma” or “period” for the system to include it. If you’re recording continuous thoughts, you can send off the audio file as-is and the transcriber listens and discerns where those punctuation marks should go.
I find it creatively freeing to simply speak as I would in a conversation, as opposed to dictating in the somewhat halting style necessary for each phrase to be understood and preserved.
Write with Your Voice
Writing with your voice is a great way to capture ideas and drafts while you’re going about your day, whether you’re traveling or folding clothes. If you’ve got big writing goals and not much time to sit at the computer, use your voice.
- Ep 112: My Best Writing Tools to Get More Done (at Home and on the Go)
- How to adjust settings for Siri to take dictation
- Rev.com transcription services
- Trint.com transcription services
- Google Keep
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