Driving and Flying

Some time ago a fellow writer told me that he used a voice dictation device (app or purchased product, I don’t know) to get his stories down on paper.  I kind of Googled that this morning, and there are indeed all kinds of apps that allow you to dictate your story while you’re doing laundry, picking up dog doodoo or driving.

Do any of you use that sort of device?

I always have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head. I’ll see something or hear something and think “that might make a good story/poem.” So I fumble around for a notebook and pen and try and jot the input down. Well, you can’t really pull over to the side of the road every five minutes when you’re driving 50 miles per hour to jot down story ideas. Nor can you sneak into the bathroom the same amount of time and write something down while at work.

So I thought…gee…this could be the device for me!

Then I thought about it.

Here’s me, driving down the backroads on my way to work, talking away on my phone/computer/bluetooth device, blabbering away scenes from chapter fifteen. And just when the killer reveals himself, there’d be a 90 degree turn in the road, and I’d miss the turn and blabber straight off the road into the cornfield.

Or what if I’m dictating a poem and I don’t notice the car in front of me has stopped? I have a hard enough time paying attention to the car in front of me the way it is.

So okay. Instead of typing on my computer (which doesn’t work because the cord is 4 hours away…you already knew that..), I dictate chapter three on my phone or Ipad from the livingroom. Again, I know me. It would go something like this:

“At this Vera stood, her well-worn dress falling down to cover Get down from there! the tops of her feet once again. She fumbled with the few buttons at her neck, her eyes and cheeks puffy I told you to get off the table! Stupid cat with sleeplessness, her scar swollen Oh shit I knocked the glass over slightly from her seated vigil all night.”

I think I’m pretty darn good at grammar and sentence structure, as I am a writer and proofreader at work. But the truth is I don’t speak as I write. I’m much more eloquent on paper than I am speaking aloud. So instead of saying, “Clouds and rain and mud and bushes all swirled together in some hideous form of vertigo. Grasping the steering wheel, all Anna could do was hold on. Her brain was being jarred, her body bouncing around as branches cracked and split under the forward motion of her car….” I would find myself saying “She crashed her car in the bushes.”

As much as I love technology, it’s not always my friend. Of course, dictating might get rid of all the “as if”s and “it seemed” and runaway semi-colons. It would save me rereading the story fifteen hundred times to catch all the repetitions. Or all the “he said” “she said”s.

I guess I’m always going to be a computer writer or a pen and paper writer, putting the words down one by one. I’m not the world’s best when it comes to multi-tasking.

And anyway, when writing, it’s like a different person enters my body and speaks for me.

And that person doesn’t drive…



17 thoughts on “Driving and Flying

  1. I think for translation an app like that is perfect. You can recite just what is written and clean it up if needed. But I dont think I could use it for creating in the first place. Like I said, I write a lot differently than I think. Or speak.


  2. I recently bought Dragon Dictation (but now I am wondering about the app Neha mentioned above), to help me with family papers. My grandparents-in-law wrote lots of letters in very close lines on very thin paper — it was too hard to find my spot in the letter, type a line, look back and find my spot, etc. The dictation software makes it easier, but I still have to go back and clean it up. I set it for “southern accent,” but there are still a lot of common words it just doesn’t pick up from me, like “boy” and “one.”
    However it can spell things like “Peleponessian Peninsula” perfectly the first time I say them. I keep wanting to tell it admiringly, “Good job!”
    And you can tell it “go to sleep,” whenever you want to pause for thought or stop to yell at the cat. 🙂
    There is definitely a learning curve, but now I am using it for lots more things than I thought — I am indexing my sketchbooks and creating an inventory of my books by just reading off the ISBNs. It is really reducing the number of cricks in my neck!


  3. And don’t you think you’re a little more creative when you write the words down? They may come slower but they’re more…eloquent…or plain better.


  4. Soon there will be cars that don’t need a driver so you can do whatever you want in your car, even write books !! I’m looking forward to that one !!!


  5. I get ideas all the time too. I thought about using the hands free texting feature on my truck but that would be awkward. I’d probably crash too I’m still a notebook and pencil girl.


  6. It sounds like a great device to me. I could “write” a book while I paint – wonderful idea. And you would have the audio-book too in the same procedure. Maybe driving a car while creating a story is not the best idea – I do follow you here. Anyway – great read – as always, Claudia! 🙂


  7. I enjoyed your whimsical article Claudia. Actually I used a voice to text app’ over the last 2 weeks. I’d read my poem, with the app’ I could then transfer it straight to my WP writing page and after editing I could publish from there, with hardly any typing on my tiresomely small phone. Very handy for me during my time without my computer.


  8. Oh yes! Definitely. I usually jot down hindi poems on paper and then use the above-mentioned tool to put it up on my blog 🙂


  9. Ha! I imagine it would be great to help translate once wriit’s written. But I know me..there would be a lot of long pauses while I think of the right phrase….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved this one! I write both in Hindi and English, and I like to have my hindi works on my blog in proper script. Earlier, I would toil away typing every painful vowel and consonant of hindi until one day when my husband (a Software engineer) entered the room and found me doing that. He opened dictation.io/speech and that was truly the end of my sorrows. Now I find it hard to believe I ever spent so much typing Hindi 😀 😀


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