Write Your Book Out Loud

Writing a book can take a lot of time. And effort. And the ability to conquer inspiration. And coffee (to excess). And pretending the internet doesn’t exist.

After you’ve established what you do and don’t need to write a book, you might be struggling with finding the time to sit butt in chair and write write write.

Now, there’s a HUGE range of time for how long it takes people to write books. It can take anywhere from weeks (if you’re insane), or several years. And that’s just the first draft! You can double if not triple that time when you go into revision. Worry not! It’ll take just as much time as you personally need it to take.

In light of that, here is one method for finding time to write:

Write your book out loud.

See, getting home from work, I try to spend some time writing, but I cook dinner, do some pandering about with cleaning and recreation, and then I crash onto my bed like Wile E. Coyote at the bottom of a canyon.

So, I may not have a wealth of free time, but I do have a twenty-minute commute to and from work every day. And after listening to my playlist a million times and failing to find a good radio station, I decided that I should squeeze some productivity into my drive.

When You Can Record (Dictate) Instead of Writing

  • Commute to/from work
  • Road trip/travel
  • At home when internet is too distracting
  • When you just can’t stare at a computer screen any more

At first, I just complained about plot holes, questions, confusions, where I was stuck in the story. It was good to talk it out and just get out of my own head.

The most accurate sensation of trying to fix plot holes. (What can I say? I’m in a Warner Bros mood.)

But recently I started actually dictating scenes from the story.

How to Write Your Book Out Loud

0. Find a good method of recording yourself.

There are plenty of recording apps out there, and plenty of them are free. The only way to find the right one for you is trial and error.

  • Is the sound quality good?
  • Does it produce transferable sound files?
  • Is the app easy to use?
  • Does it require to be a forefront application, or will it run in the background?

1. Test the app/device first, especially in the car with the engine/ventilation systems running. Or, if you’re recording at home, I’d hate to rant to myself about my book just to find that the app didn’t save my file, it stopped recording, or I couldn’t hear anything except the dull drum of the engine.

2. Put the recording device in a good location.

  • While Driving: Using my handy dandy iPod (bought circa six years ago, I think), I get ready for my drive, hit Record, and put my iPod in my car’s door handle or tuck it under the strap of my shirt/undershirt/the shoulder of my sleeve (a good trick for speaker phone, too).
  • Other Activities: If you want to use your phone, you can always hold it up to your ear and talk while shopping (etc.). That way, people won’t just think you’re talking to yourself!
  • Home Alone: You can just use your computer that way you can multitask (or lounge about) at your leisure!

3. Speak slowly at times, giving yourself time to frame dialogue, engage in descriptions, and just let your writerly imagination take its own course.

  • At first, I only got through a couple sentences at  a time, wondering if I was remembering all the characters properly. Then, after a couple of times doing this, I really got into it.

4. Don’t be afraid to sound like a doofus.

  • One of the biggest reasons people don’t do this is because they don’t like the sound of their voice on tape. Guess what? Almost no one does. So I am ever-so-politely suggesting you try it at least once, because if you hate it, then at least you tried, and maybe you got some writing done from it! 🙂
  • In order to preemptively make a fool of myself, I spoke entirely in a Scottish-British hybrid accent for half of my drive home from work. And I yelled at other cars, dropped the f-bomb that one time, and got distracted wondering if the truck driver in front of me was drunk or not.
  • Besides, the embarrassment of hearing your voice on tape is nothing compared to a writer’s fear that no one likes the story (been there, done that).

5. Don’t get so distracted that you become unsafe.

  • At home:
    • Don’t leave the stove on.
    • Don’t forget to pick up your kids.
    • And yes, you probably should take a shower this week sometime (hey, another opportunity to talk to one’s self in private!).
  • Other Activities:
    • Don’t crash your shopping cart.
    • Don’t walk into trees.
    • Don’t forget your keys.
    • Don’t lose your glasses while they’re on your face.
    • Y’know, general handy tips.
  • Driving:
    • It’s like having a conversation with someone in the car while you drive. Engage, but keep your focus on the road.
    • Let the story fill your thoughts, but don’t let it transport you entirely.
    • Just be sure not to miss your exit while driving like I did, not once, but twice.

6. Decide whether to listen to it or not.

  • If you absolutely hated the experience, or it you’re just absolutely twenty-times sure that you’ll hate the sound of your voice, then you can delete it if you want.
  • If you’re not sure, or if just talking it out inspires you to keep writing, then leave it in an archive or delete it—just get writing!
  • Listen to it and type it all up. This is the moment of truth: which is faster? Typing or your speaking voice?

7. Do a bit of natural editing/adding/revising while you type it up.

  • For apparent reasons, dictating scenes on the fly is not going to produce top-notch perfect work (or even work that is remotely grammatically correct some times).
  • When you type it up, feel free to add in emotions, dialogue, scene, descriptions, thought-out metaphors. Anything to bolster the quality!
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4 thoughts on “Write Your Book Out Loud

  1. Pingback: AFTER NaNoWriMo 2014 (December 19): Ice is Scary | words — and other things
  2. Pingback: Another Reason to Write Your Book Out Loud | words — and other things
  3. Pingback: A Reason to Write Your Book Out Loud | words — and other things

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