Sunday, January 15, 2012

Needs More (Voice) Recorder

I have three thing to cover in this weeks installment. The main point is more voice recorder stuff, including some revelations on my process. I'll also cover (of course) my resolutions and how they are progressing. And we can finish with more Media Explosion.

Voice Recorders - I have managed to write several stories using the voice recorder and have also progressed about a third to halfway through several more stories. I'm getting a lot done with the voice recorder. In fact, my main bottleneck seems to be getting butt-in-chair and actually transcribing/editing/finishing what I'm working on.

My day at work is mostly spent driving, with only short interactions with other humans. I have a lot of time for listening to podcasts and audiobooks, which is nice because I get to learn about writing and the publishing business as well as keeping up on what other writers are doing storytelling-wise. Even so, I felt like I could do more with my day--hence my efforts to write with a voice recorder. I'm trying to maximize the use of my time, multi-task by earning a living and working on a more promising career simultaneously.

The Zero Draft concept has served me well as a writer. It helped me to complete the draft of my first novel, as well as many of the stories I have written since then. It is natural and normal for writers to question the validity of whatever they are currently working on. I often don't add the coolest bits, the things that make me really love a story, until the very end. So a story can go from humdrum to awesome in an instant, if the writer is only willing to keep pushing ahead until they cross that threshold.

I like to think of this as each creativity particle the writer has already added to the work synergistically and logarithmically working together, following Moore's law and the law of accelerated returns until the work crosses the Story Singularity--the point that the writer can neither imagine nor conceptualize beyond beforehand. Okay, I will admit that concept might be a little overblown and grandiose, but it sounds pretty boss, huh?

And I just made it up right now. During the process of transcribing the recording I did yesterday of the zero draft of today's blog. One that struck me as ho-hum before I started. In other words: I just crossed the Blog Singularity.

Back to the Zero Draft. It is mostly a mental tool for me, something that lets me keep charging ahead until I hit that Singularity. It is especially important in voice recorder work, where often a huge chunk of what I dictate ends up unusable. It really isn't possible to cycle, which is my normal method of drafting, using a recorder. Editing goes write out the window, except for notes about what to go back and change. The final product is very, very rough. But the important thing is exploring the story and getting it all down.

Because of these difficulties, I've found it easier to write short fiction than long. Flash fiction works especially well. Outlining is one of the prime uses of the recorder. Also, writing a partial draft, something to get started on when I get in front of the computer, works well. I get the tone and style from the dictated story fragment, and the rest I fill in from the outline. I also do a lot of listening back to what I've dictated so far and thinking about the story, sort of aimless, letting-my-subconscious-work time. And of course, it's great for outlines, character notes, funny phrases and titles, all the tidbits a writer might normally scribble in a notebook. Brainstorming aloud is great, too.

Voice recording is very time-consuming compared to using a notebook or something similar, however. For me, between the difficulty and general bad-idea nature of writing while driving (yoiks), the recorder is a good choice. It saves me time at the keyboard at the cost of more time burned while away from the keyboard; it's a trade-off, definitely not for everyone. Those with good handwriting and the ability to take notes might well be better served sticking with that method.

One idea I am considering is typing up my dictated partial draft to carry with me and to read over quickly, thus saving myself the listening time. I'm sure other tricks will come to me as I keep at it. Which brings up the final point I want to make: Practice Makes Perfect.

Just like learning how to touch-type took time and effort, just like like learning how to tell stories took work and and still does, learning how to write with a voice recorder will take more than just flipping the thing on and starting to talk. It is a new skill, in and of itself. I find myself getting better at it, slowly figuring out new tricks as I go. But it is definitely work. Like many productivity tools, the benefits come downstream once the tool is mastered. A writer who tries using a recorder once, gets frustrated, and gives up immediately would do well to keep this mind.

Resolutions - I've done about the same as last week, perhaps a little better. Lost my pound, was an attitudinal champ, wrote maybe 1k more than last week (still way, way under par), did formatting work on a new story but no cover and no epub. I did a little more Idea Bank writing, and got slightly more done writing-wise, but I'm still calling it only a 2 out of four week. This is both disappointing and somewhat concerning, but I'm not going to dwell on it. I still have 50 weeks to get up to speed. This year is a work in progress.

Media Breakdown - I finally got the chance to watch Moneyball. The theme of the movie was very interesting, and I quite enjoyed the statistical stuff plus the game theory crossed with market analysis aspects. The drama was a little overblown for me. I realize the flick is based on a true story, but I found it disappointing that the protagonist basically lost at the end. I wanted more than just vindication of his theories from the storyline, even if real life hadn't been so compliant. I still recommend watching the movie for anyone interested in outside-the-box business thinking (and baseball, of course.)

That's all for this week. If anyone out there is using or has used a voice recorder and would like to share their thoughts and/or process, feel free to comment. See you all next week.

EDIT - I managed to get a story published for the week, after all. See for details. 3 out of 4 feels pretty sweet.

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