04 Jan

How I write this blog

Banner - PenI thought this might be a fun thing to do, to let you see exactly the process I use to write my blog.

Right now I’m walking outside, it’s about 10 degrees Celsius. There are nice weather, a little bit wet since it’s in the fall.

And I’m dictating this into my Voyager into my Plantronics Voyager 3200 headset.

Did you notice what just happened there? I said Voyager twice, because I missed a word. I’m not going to correct this in editing. All I’m going to do is clean up the punctuation and any spelling errors.

Everything else remains. So your

Everything else remains. So what you see here is the exact transcript of the exact words that I use.

Which means that some sentences [at this point, my headset lost connection to my phone, and I lost about 20 seconds of transcript. Normally, I’d make something up, or just cut the part altogether.

Today, I’ll try to recreate what I said from memory:

…some sentences will be doubled. I learned this technique from Martin L. Shoemaker. He’s a pantser, a discovery writer, which means that he doesn’t] plan anything out, just dictates it into his microphone.

And he says in the book, How to be a dictator, that when he misses a sentence, or when he’s not happy with it, he just says it again.

I thought that was a stupid idea. Because I like to write clean. But it’s actually an amazing technique, and it works like a charm. Once I tried it, I’m never going back.

Now I’m feeling quite self conscious. Because I know that I’m not going to be editing this down. And that means that I’m talking a bit slower than I usually do.

I’m also taking more pauses.

Because I’m already self conscious and when I meet people, I fall silent, not wanting to basically not wanting to make them stare at me.

So, back to the process.

I leave the kids at daycare, and I walk home. There’s a little woodland right next to the path. And I usually take that slightly longer route so that I have time to finish dictating a complete blog post. I also look for berries or mushrooms along the path so that I can come back to later with the family.

Usually I start out with a heading or a single-sentence idea.

This is enough to start me dictating.

And while my ideas tend to sprawl out, and I have to edit them quite severely in post-processing. I normally don’t have any problems with not being able to transform a title into a post.

This is because I’m talking about things that are fairly personal to me. It’s things that I do. I don’t have to do research for my blog posts. I’ve already done it all beforehand, because I lived through it, and read about it, and all those things that you do when you study.

I,

I sometimes, like now, lose my train of thought.

What usually happens is that I have half a paragraph talking about something. And then I realized that, hold on a minute, I really got nothing to say about this. So I start on something else. And then I will edit out that paragraph or two paragraphs.

This is basically the writing equivalent of writing yourself into a corner.

This is basically the blogging equivalent of writing yourself into a corner.

Note the extra sentence there. Had a wrong word had to correct it.

When I’m writing, sometimes, I just come to a halt.

Contracts past.

[At this point, the transcription (I use Otter.ai, which is free and works reasonably well) and the voice sync went out of whack, meaning that I had to search around for parts that I thought were missing, but were, in fact, transcribed later. So about a minute of frustration before I figured out that I could just toss out the bad transcription and not worry.]

I can’t write past it. There’s something wrong with the story. And I have no idea what. And that usually means then [I missed a few words here, which make the rest a bit strange, so I’m breaking my own rule and adding them: …that I have…] to throw out one or two or three scenes. Because somewhere this story took a wrong turn. And I didn’t listen.

And now my creative voice is telling me “Listen, bub, this story sucks on a plane anymore.” [Transcription error, the correct quote is “Listen, Bub, this story sucks and I’m not playing anymore.” Where the plane came from, I have no idea. Probably the transcription software wants a vacation.]

The same thing happens when I’m dictating blog posts. Except, of course, that all the taking out happens afterwards, because I can’t go back while I’m dictating and erase something.

In the beginning, this was a big deal for me. I made a mistake. And it bothered me so much that I couldn’t finish dictating the post.

Nowadays, it’s not such a big thing.

Of course, it’s taking [Not a transcription error, that’s me, not thinking grammatically.] me two years to learn how to not make it a big thing, and I’m still very self conscious about it when there are people around.

But practice makes perfect, and being able to simply talk over your mistakes is a skill that’s very, very useful, at least when you want to write blog posts fast.

[Note all the abundance of transition words: “and”, “now” etc. That’s a clear signal that I’m getting tired, and can’t formulate my thoughts clearly. It’s something I fix in editing.]

Now, usually at this point in my walk, the blog post is done. I’ve been walking for approximately eight minutes now. Sometimes it’s a bit longer. Sometimes it was a bit shorter. Today, it looks to be quite a lot longer. And it will also be quite a lot longer on the page, because I’m not editing it down.

I edit for clarity. Meaning that when I talk, I’m not all that clear. [As if you hadn’t noticed, right?] I’m much much better at expressing my thoughts through my fingers by typing than I am by talking them.

On one hand, that’s a practice issue.

I’ve been typing a lot longer than I have been dictating and dictating is a different skill from simply talking to your friends or holding a speech.

On the other hand, I typed a lot slower than I talk. Would you give [Transcription error, should have been: Which gives] my mind more time to come up with the perfect turn of phrase to formulate the ideas more fully before I write them down.

When I’m dictating, all those things have to happen afterwards, in editing.

So normal time to dictate a blog post, less than 10 minutes, sometimes it’s a little less than five.

Time to sit down and edit it, um [Yeah, Otter picked up my umm… pause. I didn’t know it could do that. Never encountered it before, but here I was falling into my natural voice, not my dictation voice. You can hear it in the recording.], 15 to 30 minutes.

Occasionally, especially when it is a topic that I feel very strongly about, or have various [Transcription error, should be: very] set opinions about, editing takes less time. This is because I’m not really editing, I’m just cleaning it up. Because the idea is more fully formed in my head as I start dictating it.

Time to post, that depends a lot, usually on whether I need to add a graphic or add links. But, say, an average of 20 to 30 minutes.

So a blog post today, let’s say an hour of work. That’s on the low end, some of my blog posts require research. In that case, I’m not dictating them, because I really can’t do research while I’m walking. And those kinds of posts, for example, like the, quite old now, Intellectual Property post, they can take hours, even days of work.

Usually, though, my blog posts are about a technique that I just learned, or a technique that I just learned to appreciate. Or something that happens in my life that reminds me of, Or something that happens in my life, that reminds me of a life change that I have done, or some sort of self improvement technique that I have learned.

And those posts are faster, because they are very, very current in my head. And I don’t need to do research.

I just had to stop because I passed a neighbor, and had to wave to them. And then some sort of school gathering where all the teams [Transcription error, should be: teens] were staring at me as I’m walking and talking. But probably not staring at me, because everybody is walking and talking or listening to their headphones nowadays. But it still feels weird to expose my writing to people before it is done. So I fall silence [Transcription error, should be: silent].

And now I’m approaching my house at which time the blog post naturally ends.

And I think that’s what’s going to happen with this. And hopefully it won’t turn out too bad. [With all those transition words? And, and, and, and? Who am I kidding, this post needs to be EDITED!!!!]

Normally, I stopped [Transcription error, should be “stop”. Bit of wind here in the recording, and even though I use a wind sock on my headset (I’ve stuck it on with a rubber band) Otter struggles with wind. I’m not going to write “transcription error” anymore, just stick the correct word in brackets.] when I come to a perfect stopping point. It presents itself in my mind and I’m [a] good ending sentence.

Right now. I don’t feel I have one. When that happens, I just ramble on an [and] ad one in editing, which of course I want [won’t] to today.

So you’ll have to live with this post simply coming to an app [end.]

Transcribed by https://otter.ai [Yeah, there’s a commercial when you copy text out of Otter. Not like you can’t cut it later 😉]

[One post done. Dictating took me 14 minutes, and felt somewhat longer and more difficult than a regular post. If I’d have been dictating normally, I might have abandoned it at the point where my neighbor strolls past.

Cleaning it up for posting took 33 minutes, which was less than I expected from a post this long, but that’s because I sat down and edited, err, cleaned it up right after I got home. Then the contents are still fresh in my mind and I don’t have to search for what I was trying to say.

And, as Porky Pig in the cartoon says: That’s all, folks!]

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