Productivity: Changing Your Writing Perspective

Writers have often been given the advice  that if they’re running into writer’s block, that they should change their perspective. This can mean any one of a number of things:

  1. If you’re reading the newspaper trying to get ideas, watch TV or turn on the radio.
  2. If you’re in the study room, go to another room, or even take a walk outside. If you’re outside, go to the library.
  3. If you’re typing on the computer, pull out a pencil and notepad.

You get the idea. Another option that has worked well for me in the past, especially when I’m trying to capture my natural voice, is voice recording. This is great for some types of blogs, and it’s often easier to capture ideas on a voice recorder.

In fact, most of this entry was done on my PalmOne Treo 650, through a combination of voice recording and some cryptic notetaking. The rough edtion was punched into the native mini-keyboard. To save time, I left out most of the vowels. Here’s an example of what I typed in, errors and all:

this works very well for me. One example of this tchnq is to chg rms. Or turn on the tv, or rdo dpndng on wht yr dng rt nw. Or if yr wrtng on paper, start typng. Or recording yr vce. As I’m wrtng ths, I’m at my fve chnse bfft. I didn’t wnt to lse the idea, so I plld out my treo.

You can probably decipher most of it, but basically I’m saying that I was at my fave Chinese buffet and got the idea for this post, and a couple of others. So as not to bother other diners, I didn’t do any recording until I was outside. The redundancy of text and voice helps me when I’m procrastinating later on in the day: two reminders that I must finish the blog entry.

Any voice recorder will do, provided that you have an easy way to replay your recordings over and over while transcribing. When I ran my print magazine, I always had several mini-dictation type recorders on hand for my interviewers. I also kept 2 in my car so that while I was out doing distribution or ad sales, or even just driving (not recommended), I wouldn’t lose a great idea.

While I still have a box of recorders, I’m much preferring using Ryan Rife’s free SoundRec program on my Treo 650. While spare on features, it turns my Treo into a reasonable sound recorder, which, surprisingly, is not a native function. In fact, when I read the PalmOne site’s specs for the Treo 650, I saw no mention of being able to easily record voice memos despite the device having a microphone. SoundRec makes it simple. Although, to my disappointment, the Treo doesn’t have a high enough signal-to-noise ratio to warrant using the recordings for podcasts. (For that, I use my low-hum desktop computer with a microphone and the OpenSource Audacity recording software.)

Still, this recording technique, along with a bit of text, helps me jog my memory later, when I actually sit down to post the final version of the blog entry. Overall, I get writing done than when I work without it.

Technorati Tags: writing, blog content, productivity, writing techniques

6 thoughts on “Productivity: Changing Your Writing Perspective

  1. Wise words, Shri. And if you can record thought-provoking audio, why not podcast then 😕

  2. “Change of work is rest.”

    Or something to that effect.

    The writer’s block is something all of us have to struggle with every now and then.

    Sometimes we wait for the AHA moments, other times we create them. Trouble is, you never know which is which. I realize this sounds very Zen, but to me it seems to be the truth.

    I am all for the idea of recording my thoughts. In fact I think I will be going in for onr of those snappy digital contraptions pretty soon. The only thing that worries me right now is:

    Will I be able to shake off my laziness to transcribe all those thoughts into relevant posts?

    Or should I put them up as ‘Podcasts’?

    Very lazy, I know…

    What do you think?

    “It doesn’t matter where you stand, as long as you do.”

  3. Thanks for the link, BobC. Brian Eno has always been a genius. (My own compositions are highly influenced by him.) I’ll check out the site.

  4. I am a big fan of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies ( but like many powerful tools, it punishes the proud and the impatient. Best to use it sparingly.

    Another idea for re-orienting your writing perspective is to detach yourself from your normal point-of-view – yes, that’s axiomatic, but hang with me.

    Exampli gratia 1: If your normal PoV is writing like a technology wonk, try writing like you were talking to your auld granny who doesn’t know technology but knows you and is interested in hearing about why you like technology.

    Exampli gratia 2: If your normal PoV is writing to compare and contrast with the tools of reason, try writing like you are oblivious to any alternative world view regarding a given topic – be an unrepentant zealot, a wild-haired fanboy.

    Standing on your head works too. There is a reason why kids like to roll down hills and get dizzy. It shakes up the world like a snowglobe, and makes everything brand new.

  5. Do you use a foot pedal to control the recorder? I actually thought this was rather old-fashioned, but one of the PalmOS devices websites was selling one!

  6. I still have an old version of IBM Via Voice laying around and I am planning to buy a high quality headphone with microphone to recycle that license.

    The second step will be a digital voice recorder which can be plugged onto the PC …

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