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Reductio ad absurdum

I am clearly not to be trusted with electronic devices. No, wait: that’s the wrong place to start. Sort of. It kind of went like this…

I had thoughts yesterday, relating to progress and the measuring thereof if any. Then, this morning, I woke up later than usual (which had the effect of fogging my mind…more so than usual…work with me on this one), carried a kid off to school, and went to a trail to dictate. Soon thereafter, for reasons too embarrassing to go into, and after all there’s not much you can do about it if I don’t want to give details here, I realized I no longer owned a voice recorder. Hmm.

So I went and bought another one (parenthetically, if you didn’t notice the punctuation, Best Buy does not actually have good deals), and bought a lanyard in another store–or at least some leather that could become a lanyard–and then I was good to go. (Hmm? What’s that? Oh. No, the lanyard isn’t attached to the recorder, since that could cause extraneous noises. It’s attached to a case in which the recorder can be carried. No, that’s all right, I don’t mind the interruption. You’re quite welcome.)

But wait! First I had to go to a school and talk to admin-types about the ways their coaches were behaving in public, which I figured should matter since it was a public school after all. After I waited. For a long time. Then I had a talk that was not a good talk. Then I was good to go.

Anyway, back to the thoughts I had yesterday. I like the dictation/transcription process. But it fits awkwardly with attempts to edit. For one thing, editing the audio files rather than the transcribed text is just too silly to even contemplate. (So why can’t I stop?) For another, failing that capacity, the necessary delays involved in copying or up- and downloading files, then waiting for them to be transcribed, are bothersome. Plus, switching back and forth between tasks like that is not conducive to a flow state.

Therefore? This: I’m not going to transcribe anything else until my novel (or I guess its messy first draft) is complete. I am also not going to report progress immediately after my morning dictation sessions, if any. Instead I’m going to report time spent dictating, and number of sessions. Only. And I’ll do it at the end of my writing time for the day, or perhaps a little bit afterward.

After all, words per hour don’t count for much compared to total words, and if I’m dictating the novel…well, total words don’t matter as much as total time spent, you know, working. Because, although I may be trying to increase my words per hour whilst dictating, the main question is whether I am, or am not, producing new words at any given moment. For now, my primary goal (as well as, you know, writing a novel?) is to spend more time working and less time fiddle-farting around.

I mean, yes, one of the stronger reasons behind my attempt to switch new-fiction production over to a dictation-based process is to try to make words flow faster than via typing. And at some point I may or may not try to optimize that part of things more directly. But for now, I just need to make it as easy as possible for progress to happen. I need things, and at least one brain, to flow.

On the “outlining” front, I guess I’m not opposed to knowing what I’m about to do before I do it. But again, switching back and forth between looking at an outline and dictating seems cumbersome. As does attempting to update a document immediately after dictation. Or creating a document immediately before dictation. Instead, I’m going to try out a new scheme: if I’m not sure what I want to say next, I will outline possibilities verbally, reach a decision, and then plunge in, ideally without having to do anything more physically taxing than change the subject of my monologue. No buttons, no switching devices, simply moving on to the actual job here. If I’m not sure what I said last? Perhaps I’ll listen to a few words of a previous recording. Or maybe I’ll just state whatever uncertainties may exist, then proceed. After all, I’ll run across all such comments later on. Won’t I? So I might as well just…dictate something potentially useful.

Related: when I produced a couple of novels using my AlphaSmart Neo, I typed most of them using a font I couldn’t read, on a very small screen, and I had no convenient way to edit. So, if stumped on some point or other, I’d type the word “blah” and a note to myself to change or look up whatever was necessary at some later time, and then proceed with typing. It worked pretty well. Definitely quicker to do all that stuff at the same time, later, and not let it get in the way of telling a story.

Illogical? Ridiculous? Could be. It’s just…I want to dictate, and I want to finish the novel, and I want to stop having all these very-good reasons to stop throughout the day. So for a bit at least, the voice recorder will be my only tool. Well, that and my watch. (I knew I’d eventually find a reason to need a watch. Even though it seemed kinda silly to buy the thing, back when I did that.) (Well, I guess I’ll let my phone be a player here too, after all, since I use it to set off alarms…not burglar alarms, mostly, but instead those intended to go off at a certain time, rather than whenever I engage in nefarious activities, though that too may be a useful tool for some.) (Yeah, my watch has a few alarms I could set, but the phone’s better at that. Sorry.)

What are the downsides? Different possibilities. I may freeze up, with no way to check on my words. Some chapters/scenes may come out longer or shorter than I might have made them via another method. Bunches of things may fall through the cracks. For all I know, the process of dictation (rather than typing) may result in a very shallow, not-worth-reading novel. (Because typing is the way God told us to write?)

So. Will it work? Beats me. Today, I got in two sessions for a total of 102 minutes. Not bad, given a few of the various givens. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Have fun out there!

Yesterday’s dictation count: 0 words
Time spent dictating: 102 minutes, 2 sessions
Week to date: ?
Total words since 1/22/18: ?

(Clearly I’m going to need to revisit the running totals at some point.)

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