Write to Speak? How Google’s Voice Typing made me a better writer

By Stephanie De Geus

Do you know that feeling when you sit down to write and end up starting at a blank page? You’re ready, you’ve shown up, but your page and mind stay completely blank… Now what?

As a writer, this is the most irritating and frustrating thing that can happen to you. There is nothing that kills creativity more than the paralyzed feeling you get from that blank page. It may feel like all the inspiration in the world has dried up and it’s not coming back.

It happened this week as I was sitting in front of my laptop. I was ready to dive in and get to work and… nothing. Looking back it makes sense. I was trying to move house, start a new job as a mailman (woman!), run a few times a week and run my business. So when the time came to sit down and do what I love — writing — my brain was just too overwhelmed. And we all know what happens when you feel overwhelmed: Facebook and mindlessly surfing the web.

See, as a writer, one of my favourite sounds is the sound my keyboard makes when my fingers fly over it to words, sentences, and stories. Every keyboard sounds different, and when I’ve been working somewhere else, typing on my laptop feels like coming home. Typing is a form of music, it has a rhythm and frankly, it works inspiring. So when it’s not there, the silence is deafening, and that makes it even harder to start on top of everything else.

So now what? This is going nowhere, and you really need to get this article done, publish a blog post, finish your chapter, but getting started is getting harder by the minute. As I was sitting there, I remembered an article I read on ProBlogger about how to create content quickly. They break down the writing process into several steps: the first draft which is then followed by several rounds of editing. But that is not what grabbed my attention, it’s how they create their first draft, the brain dump: by dictating.

At first, it’s something I said I would never do. I’m a writer, not a speaker. I’ve always felt a resistance to creating content like that. But then, with that blank page screaming in my face, I decided to try it. It was strange at first speaking into a microphone and text appearing on the screen. It was even weirder to see the amount of mistakes Google’s Voice Typing made — it created some seriously funny sentences without punctuation. But it worked, it took away my blank page, there was text on there now. It took me twenty minutes to ramble away and create an outline, but it was there. This column was no longer a blinking cursor.

Was it bad? Yep. Was it all over the place? Oh yes. Was it full of mistakes? You betcha! But it was there, and now it was just a matter of editing. So far, I’ve tried it with client pages, course work and even blog posts and what I found was that I had a 3.000-word outline for a module in half an hour. Now, I know I can write super fast, but not that fast. By the end of it, I even started to enjoy speaking into a microphone and my sentences became better and clearer.

But, it does feel like I’m cheating a bit. Is it really writing when you’re speaking? Yes, it is. Being a writer means you’re creating words on a page. Stories, things people can read (or listen to in an audiobook) with a certain structure and outline. So why shouldn’t you speak the words, get your thoughts together when your fingers refuse to write down the words? I’d say anything to help you on the days where your fear of the blank page takes over is a good thing. I won’t say I’ll use it every day, but I love the option to be able to get something down on the page quickly when I need to. And if that helps to get more done, I’m all up for it. Don’t you agree?

Stéphanie de Geus is a copywriter, content manager & Virtual Assistant living in the Netherlands. Her goal is to help women business owners get organised and rock at their job. She has every colour highlighter you can imagine, enough sticky notes to last two lifetimes and is not so secretly addicted to planning. She blogs about getting yourself organised and creating great content for your blog over at www.thestorysparks.com.

Chair & Pen publishes stories on the writing process and the writing life. It is edited and curated by Writing Coach Annalisa Parent. To learn more about how to work with Annalisa, visit www.DateWithTheMuse.com

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