Follow up on using a digital recorder to write my novel

In January, I wrote a blog about using a digital recorder to help me write my novel. I received an Olympus digital recorder for Christmas with the hopes of brainstorming as I walked to get the kids from school or drove to the store. I envisioned dictating ideas or scenes in situation where my hands would otherwise be busy.

It has been over two months since I received the recorder, and I love it. Being able to record my thoughts as I run errands or clean the kitchen has been great. Right now, I am really using it more for the planning out of my story. I don’t work off an outline but rather let my story build and change as I write. This means I often need to brainstorm what will be happening next before I sit down to write. The recorder has been invaluable in that aspect.

A few times I have tried to dictate out a whole scene, but it hasn’t worked out as well as I would hope. I have no problem envisioning the scene in my head but trying to verbalize it seems to cause me problems. It seems I am better at typing down those thoughts.

I have even used the recorder to get down my ideas for future blog topics. I can just brainstorm aloud and then transcribe them later. And this is how I have been using the recorder. I play back – usually with headphones on – my recording and type the information into my Word document, often expanding the idea as I type. I have not tried using any of the software that would automatically input my recordings into Word. I kind of like having to type it in because it allows me to not only expand the ideas but put them in the correct order since this is basically my novel outline.

So if you are considering a digital recorder, I would say to go for it. For just over $50, you can get a great little recording device that is easy to use and carry with you. I am just happy to be able to work on my current work in progress when I am away from the computer and without needing a pad and pen to do it.


Trying a digital voice recorder to help write my novel

I often lament about trying to find time to write. In addition to being an author, I am also the mother of two, the part-time bookkeeper for my husband’s law firm, a member of our homeowner’s association activities committee (as well as the sole person doing the HOA newsletter), actively post on this blog two to three times a week and am an active volunteer at my kids’ school. Throw in the puppy who still needs some training, and you have one busy person. Unfortunately, writing sometimes takes a backseat to other activities.

In the past, I have written numerous posts about trying to set aside time to write and even shared tips I used such as keeping a pad of paper with me when waiting in the car to pick up my daughter or while waiting for my son to finish karate.

So while I am still working to make writing my novel a priority and setting realistic goals for myself, I asked for something at Christmas that I thought might help. I asked for an Olympus voice recorder.

I plan to brainstorm or dictate scenes as I walk to get the kids from school, drive to the store (or sitting in the traffic jam that happens daily on the highway near my house) or while doing the household chores. With my recorder, I can record ideas or scenes for my latest work in progress during these times when a computer or notepad aren’t nearby.

Since my hands will be busy in many of these cases, I plan to use a strap to attach the recorder to my arm like runners do with their music players. Another option would be to hang the recorder from a lanyard around my neck. Either way I want my hands to be free to do other things and believe the digital voice recorder will be easy to carry around and simple to use.

Now I plan to just use my digital recorder for notes and to dictate scenes that I will transcribe at a later point – probably editing and adding as I type those thoughts into Word.

But there are writers out there who are not good at typing and don’t want to write longhand an 80,000+ word novel that will still need to be typed by someone else. For those people, dictating their whole novel may be worth it. Most of us can talk much faster than we can type or write.

If you dictate your whole novel, you will need to get it into a typed manuscript somehow. You can pay someone to transcribe it or you can use a service such as where you record over the Internet, and they return a typed file for you to edit.

Another option would be to use speech to text software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking. You simply speak, and the software writes what you say on the screen. You can even use your digital voice recorder in conjunction with this software. You can record your thoughts and ideas while you are away from the computer and then plug the recorder into your computer to have the software transcribe your information.

I am eager to try out my new recorder and will get a chance to do so when the kids go back to school next Monday. After a few months, I will give an update on how it is working out and if it has indeed helped me progress on my current work in progress.