I recently learned something about myself: when my house is filled with moving boxes, I ignore my desire to write and give in to a deeper, more animalistic urge to nest. As a result, my laptop sat, unattended, for more than ten days.
My fervent unpacking didn’t stop writing ideas from popping into my head, however, and I realized I needed some way to satisfy both cravings at the same time. I tried jotting down random thoughts on sticky notes. I tried writing down ideas in my journal. But each time, the boxes won out, and many of my great ideas were packed away (pardon my pun).
Then, I came up with a solution: I could record my thoughts and ideas while I unpacked. At first the notion seemed strange – almost anti-writing. The more I thought about it, however, the more it seemed like a good idea. We listen to books on tape, which is considered reading. So why not dictate a chapter out-loud and call it writing?
When it comes to dictation, past memories cast a dark cloud on the method. I recall my first job as a paralegal, dutifully transcribing the letters and memos of my micro-managing boss, developing a true distaste of the dictating practice.
But the more I dictate to myself as a writer, the more I like it.
I recorded an entire chapter into my phone as I unpacked a few days ago. The chapter wasn’t perfect. Not even close. But it was more than I had accomplished in the previous ten days and, with a little revision, it has potential.
Dictation helped me break the writing silence. It was an effective, temporary solution when I had no choice but to multi-task. If you find yourself in situations where you can’t be in front of a computer, give it a try. Dictation could be especially helpful for those of us who work and have long commutes. Instead of cursing the car in front of you, make the commute valuable “writing” time. Soothing a baby to sleep? Dictate a story as you jostle and sway.
Just because we’re writers doesn’t mean we don’t have other jobs and responsibilities. If we want to make writing a priority, we have to work at it, stick with it, and move (ð) forward.
Have any other writing solutions when you’re stuck performing mindless tasks? I’d love to hear them!
Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here.
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