I used to suffer from terrible writer’s block.
Ideas buzzed through my mind whenever I spoke with friends or walked around New York City. But my brain turned off once I started typing. To be creative, I had to be on the move or in dynamic conversation. But at the computer, my mind stopped working.
Desperate for a solution, I generated ideas by talking. I outlined my first popular long-form essay What the Hell is Going On by recording myself talk about the thesis for 15 minutes. I used an app called Otter to instantly transcribe my ideas, which I transferred to my computer and used to outline my essay.
Talking to myself can be generative, but most of my new ideas come from conversations with friends. I’ve written numerous articles with Nik Sharma and whenever we see each other, we record our conversations. Pressing the record button is like a challenge to come up with new ideas. With instant transcription, our comments become the raw material for articles. When we’re done talking, we copy-and-paste the transcript into a Word Document, think of a thesis, and rearrange the ideas until we have an outline.
If transcribing your voice doesn’t feel like pure writing, remember that Winston Churchill did most of his writing by dictating his thoughts to a secretary who typed his ideas for him. Then, once his ideas were on the page, he revised them. If it wasn’t above Churchill, it isn’t above you.
If sitting at a computer kills your creativity, talk to your phone and transcribe what you say until you have enough ideas to write.
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