Why a Voice Recording Should be your First Draft
Whether you’re writing a keynote, a report, or the next bestseller, you never know when inspiration might strike. You could be on your morning commute, in the back of a taxi, or in bed at 3am struggling to sleep, when suddenly everything falls into place.
Unfortunately, the handy notebook and pocket ballpoint pen are heading in the direction of the dinosaurs and are no longer quite as handy as they once were. So, what do you do instead?
Grab your phone and note it down on there? Yes, you could do that, but we all know what it’s like trying to hit the right buttons on your keypad when you’re standing up on a busy, bumpy train; good luck trying to figure out the gobbledygook you end up typing there! Oh, and looking at a bright screen in the middle of the night? Why not just stare right into the sun?
If only there was some handy way you could leave a message for future you, like a voicemail. Well, come on down, Voice Recorder, it is your time to shine! Yes, there is a legitimate reason for having that Voice Memo app on your phone, and it isn’t just so you can record impossibly loud and unrecognisable audio at a gig!
What is editing?
First drafts are first drafts for a reason; they are full of mistakes, corrections, repetitions and terrible jokes, but, most importantly, they never see the light of day. Author Clive Barker once said, ‘I write a draft without ever looking back,’ and that’s the key. You have to start somewhere, and some of the best ideas start off as offhand remarks or adlibs that seem inconsequential at the time but ultimately evolve into the backbone of your work. Sadly, these are often lost when you’re writing down ideas; you dismiss them as unimportant, not seeing their potential. But if you’ve got an audio recording you have a full record of your stream of consciousness, and nothing gets lost. Even those ideas that don’t seem important today could spark something special when you play them back tomorrow, next week, or in a month’s time.
Write without the shackles on
When you have a deadline, regardless of what it’s for, you suddenly become your biggest critic; everything you write has to be perfect, and everything you type has to end up in your final draft. No one can work like that! Even today, when we know a sentence in a Word document can be erased with a quick backspace, there’s something about the physical act of hitting those keys and typing out those letters which gives off an aura of permanence. But hitting ‘record’ on a voice recording and casually speaking into a microphone doesn’t have the same feel. Recording an audio version of your first ideas can allow you to play around with them as and when you like, and there’s no pressure to keep them whatsoever.
Tidy desk, tidy mind
I have to admit something. As I’ve been writing this article about how much better audio recordings are for first drafts than notebooks, I’ve been doing so with a notebook sitting alongside me full of scribbles and ideas for future projects. Its every page is a quagmire of crossing outs and mistakes, with margins full of sentences written every which way because I couldn’t decide which version I liked best. However, the more I look at it, the more I realise it perfectly illustrates why audio recordings work better. Each page has perhaps two full sentences, no more, because the rest of the space is taken up by scribbles where I’ve changed my mind multiple times over. If I had recorded those ideas audibly, I would have three different versions of each sentence to choose from later. Instead, I have one version and lots of unintelligible crossings out.
Ultimately, audio drafts give you a freedom you don’t get when you’re writing or typing, and if you’re reading this thinking, ‘I just prefer to have my notes written down,’ let me tell you about the magical world of transcription.
Written by Transcriber Lydia