Dictation in the Car: Out Running Your Goals

I ran into a snag early in my dictation/transcription journey that still plagues me to this day… not that it’s been a very long time. I quickly out pace my transcriptions and have nothing to talk about for an entire session or more.

Transcribing and correcting the text takes time. I usually try to get them done when I get home from work, but I have a family and responsibilities 1. So I frequently find myself several sessions behind in my transcriptions and unable move forward without at least reading what I had dictated about previously. In some cases, this could be immediate: If I couldn’t transcribe yesterday’s recordings I couldn’t move forward today.

Every time I went into a session without a concrete goal, I wasted the entire session. I quickly realized I would need other projects to fall back on, otherwise I’d waste the entire session. 

Enter secondary projects! At this stage, my 2017 novel is my primary project. As backups, I have the monthly flash fiction stories as well as my Star Wars short story for a roleplaying game (which is quickly getting out of hand).

I have notecards in my purse for the most current stage of each project. If I am stumped on the primary project, I grab the card from one of the other projects and work on that until I can get back to the primary project.

It’s been said that multi-tasking is evil and that it results in sub-par final products and, I believe, that is absolutely true. However, I don’t think that having multiple writing projects is the same thing as trying to cook dinner while painting the living room at the same time. I’m not trying to work on multiple projects in the same block of time: each block of time is devoted to a single project at a time.

Is it multi-tasking if a carpenter works on a table on Monday and, while the stain dries, works on some bed posts on Tuesday? Is the carpenter going to end up with crappy end-products? Of course not. If the carpenter only worked on one project at a time, what would she do during “stain drying” time? Pick her nose? Play on her phone?

Likewise, working on a novel on Monday and a short story on Tuesday is not multi-tasking. Sometimes I need to let the “stain dry.” More frequently, I need to catch up to my transcription.

I can’t won’t always stay on top of transcribing my sessions day by day. Unless I want to waste valuable session time driving in silence, I need to have multiple projects waiting in the wings to keep me productive.

If you find yourself outpacing your transcription, try having similar goals and prompts ready for other projects so you don’t waste a recording session.

What about you? Have you discovered any tricks to keep yourself on track when writing on the move, or when writing on a time-budget?


1. I’ve seen quotes go by on Pinterest and such that talk about making sacrifices for “The Craft” and stuff, even so far as implying sacrificing time family. I’m sorry, but I am not going to have my kids grow up believing that my writing is more important than going to their recital, or that it’s more important than snuggling them and reading a book together (Cat’s in the Cradle, and all that). Not to mention that’s the kind of background that writers use to explain why their character became an assassin and I’d like to avoid that. 


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