You may have heard a fast, economical way to get your writing done is to use a recording device free to download on any smartphone. Then, for anywhere between $0.75 to $1.00 per minute, you can have your recording transcribed and back to you within 24 to 48 hours. From that transcription, you can then shape your ideas into an article or chapter of a book without having to start from a blank page.
Sounds great, right?
Well. . . unfortunately, I’ve found that as a professional writer who’s been thinking through my ideas silently (probably using my left brain) and then typing those ideas out quickly onto a computer keyboard, I actually find it difficult–and weird–to record myself talking out loud and alone. I tend to start off fine, but then hesitate or stop altogether, which leaves long spaces of time on the recording when I’m actually thinking to myself. So mostly, recording doesn’t make writing that much easier (or quicker) for me.
What DOES work to get a quick start on a new writing project or to get unstuck when I’ve been procrastinating a seemingly daunting writing task is to talk to someone else while I record our conversation.
Making an appointment with this person gives me a firm date and time for starting my writing–along with an actual audience to listen to my ideas. When I talk to a writing partner, I can “hear” how my thoughts are landing (or not) for the other person. My partner will also often ask me clarifying questions or give me suggestions about how I might further develop my ideas. Then I return the favor for my writing partner when she needs the same type of help.
Once my general ideas are down, I can then begin structuring what I want to say since I now have material to work with; I’m not starting from scratch. As Stephen King admits in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Having a real audience to listen to your initial ideas, even when they’re still jumbled and new, can kickstart your writing or help you keep your momentum going.
Another strategy I use while working with a writing partner is to set up a phone appointment and work together with this person using a shared Google Doc. As I verbalize my ideas, my writing partner will literally capture those ideas on the page, so I can see them appear right before my eyes without having to type the words myself.
Asking someone to type for you might strike you as lazy or impractical, but often, just getting an important writing project started can be the most daunting part of the task, so talking to another person while she types can be just the thing to help you get past your initial resistance.
This is also one of the ways I help my private writing clients develop their books. I ask them probing questions, listen closely to their answers, and take down what they’re saying while sharing my screen with them so they can see their ideas come alive on the page. A pre-writing strategy like this can make a big difference for an author when she just needs a gentle push to get started!
So whenever you’re having a tough time getting some important writing task started or finished, try working with a recording device, a Google Doc, and/or a writing partner–and let me know what you think!