Fight Writer’s Block With Talk

If you’re having trouble writing, maybe you should stop writing and start talking. Sometimes my clients tell me, “I’d do much better talking about my ideas than writing about them.” I’ll say, “Well, let’s talk it through.” Once we’ve done so, they feel like they have a better grip on their ideas. Then they’re either ready to start writing on their own, or I feed their cleaned-up notes back to them. Either way, we have something to start with, a scaffolding to hang the ideas on.

If you aren’t working with a writer or coach, you can get to the same place by talking to yourself. Or, more specifically, by talking to your computer. If you find that you talk more easily and freely than you write when you’re trying to rough out a first draft of your ideas, then you might to try using a speech recognition program to “take dictation” as a way to kick-start your writing process.

Using a simple voice recognition program lets you “talk your ideas out” so that you have a rough first draft in a word processing document. Then you have something to react to and to edit. (As I am constantly telling my clients, “We can’t edit what you haven’t yet written.”) If you tend to think out loud, you may find that working this way allows your ideas to flow more easily than they do when you struggle at the keyboard in front of a blank screen.

I experimented with the “Don’t Write It – Say It!” method to write this blog post. In the course of reading reviews online about voice recognition software, I found a comment someone had made about Windows having its own simple speech recognition program included. The Windows Speech Recognition program lives in the “Accessories” program folder, in a sub-folder called “Ease of Access.” So I decided to try that as a first step, just to see how I liked the experience of dictating a draft instead of typing or handwriting it.

I grabbed a headset with an attached microphone and went through the quick tutorial. Then I opened up a new Word document and started talking, essentially doing my writing without touching the keyboard. It takes a little time to train your voice recognition software to understand what you are saying, but it was a relatively painless process. (I let my 10-year-old try it, and she waded right in fearlessly – a model example for anyone with mild technophobia.)

If you find yourself at a loss for words when you sit down at the keyboard, sometimes talking your way through the block is the way to go. Let me know if this technique works for you.

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