I wouldn’t call myself a “believer,” but sometimes I pray. Even though it’s absurd and senseless, even though I can’t be sure that anyone’s listening, I get quiet, and when the quiet itself begins to hum and grow louder, I start talking with God.
Only—and forgive my blasphemy—I don’t really think it’s God I’m talking to at all. More like myself, out loud, but prayer had a better ring to it than crazy.
One night, on a whim, sitting alone in my apartment and staring at a blank page, I started recording myself. “Maybe I can write a book of prayers,” I joked.
As a writer, I’m hoping this level of insanity comes with the territory. What we capture, however, as both poets and storytellers, are not just words or plot lines but emotions. And real emotions are not always easy to replicate. For me, recording my thoughts—whether I call it prayer or brainstorming—seems to help me hold on to them longer.
Most phones have voice memo applications that allow users to record, save, name, and file away recordings by date. Over time, you can gather a digital library. When I begin to talk aloud, without the need for another person to respond or direct me, without worrying about word choice or how, well, silly I sound, I find the lack of inhibition lets my mind wander, generating story ideas that are more creative and original than they would be otherwise.
At the end of the day, I may never listen to these recordings again, other than to, perhaps, quickly jot something down and run with it. But they hold an important role in my creative process and could for you too. Like a mini-therapy session, they help me defeat the dragon that is writer’s block and remind me to believe in myself again.
Generally, I use the voice memo feature on my phone to record these “prayers,” but lately, I’ve been looking at alternatives. There is, after all, a finite amount of storage on my phone, and I don’t love the idea of my private thoughts being on a device so easily accessible by others. I am both clumsy and forgetful, and my phones don’t tend to last forever.
Besides my phone, I’ve found the tools below to be helpful ways to use voice recording to improve my writing.
Olympus VN-722PC Voice Recorder
This voice recorder is for those who like the feel of a classic recorder but with digital capabilities. It has 4GBs of built-in memory, or, 1,600 hours. It also has a stand and connects to your computer via USB so you can easily import audio files. I have an older model that still uses tape—gasp!—but if I ever purchased one again, it’d probably be this model.
Scrivener is technically a word processor, but one created specifically for writers. There are templates for screenwriting, short stories, and novels. It does cost $45, but there is a free, thirty-day trial version. I recently started using the program and have come to really enjoy it—and I’m only beginning to delve into its features. You can write in scenes, using a corkboard-like view to move around the pieces of your story. You can include research and character sketches all in one platform, making it easy to jump back and forth between information. But Scrivener also allows you to record audio notes, which, for me, is a useful feature. Having to write notes on top of a story can be draining, the constant pull away from the “real” writing, but audio notes are quick and easy.
AudioNote Voice Recorder App
In our app-enabled world, there are even more voice recording options than ever available. AudioNote is just one of many I found while delving into the App Store on my computer. The “Lite” version only allows users to record for up to five minutes, but for $4.99, you can download the full version. This app, in particular, is useful for recording interviews. Contrary to popular belief, interviews are not only useful for non fiction or journalistic writing. Friends and family members have lifetimes worth of stories; all you have to do is ask for them. This app allows you to record those conversations via your computer, but also includes a note-taking feature that marks down the exact point in the recording to which the note refers to. That way, you can easily find the information later.
This list is by no means comprehensive and mainly focuses on tools that I have personally used. What recording and writing tools have you found effective? Share with us below!