Hack Your Writing; use Your Voice Instead.

For some people writing comes easy, but for others the idea of writing blog posts or compiling learning resources to support teaching and learning can be a daunting task. If you’re anything like me and really want to share your ideas with the big wide world, but every thought in your head curls up and dies as soon as you open a word document, don’t worry. We all have this problem at some point, even if we used to be really good at it.

I used to write for living. Creating ten (yes ten!) articles about technology every single day. Fast forward to now, and I find it hard to write a single blog post in a day. But it’s not through lack of trying, or a drought of ideas. It’s just that blank screen, that writer’s block, that always gets in the way. Not to mention the overwhelming urge to procrastinate by watching Netflix tackling an easier task on your to-do list. Anything other than trying to break up the white space with those agonisingly difficult first few words of wisdom. But then I found Siri. My secret weapon. Something that works wonders for me to get me thoughts out.

You see I’ve always been more of a talker. (No surprise there if you’ve every met me in person). I find it much easier to explain an idea in conversation, than in text. If I’m talking to someone else, then my thoughts flow more naturally. If I then try to write what I just said down I fail dismally. I feel like I’ve used my one attempt up, and then it’s like trying to stop a handful of sand from running through my fingers. I end up snapping the laptop in half over my knee, curling up into a ball, and crying myself to sleep.

Okay, joking. I don’t really do that. I use an iPad, not a laptop.

Some of you reading this will say “Oh yes, that’s great for you, but Siri doesn’t understand what I’m saying, and writes everything down incorrectly. And you’d be right. She’s a bit of an idiot like that. However, that’s kind of part of the process. You see the act of parsing what you’ve said, adding the correct grammar and spelling, and restructuring your sentences, helps you to gather your thoughts and articulate yourself more effectively. Not to mention the fact that you actually have something to work with, instead of the white screen and flashing cursor that haunts your dreams.

Siri is actually quite a good listener too. She (or he), will wait patiently while you pause between words or sentences, and she’ll even adjust the sentence as it develops, which is nice. I quite enjoy watching her try and figure out what I’ve said as she slowly corrects previous sentences, based on my next words. Try it out and you’ll see what I mean, it’s pretty clever 😋. If I’m honest, I find Google’s assistant to be far more accurate, so if you’re an Android use then you’re in good hands. However, on Apple devices Siri is so well integrated that it’s just more convenient. And convenience is king for stuff like this.

What used to be a nuanced process where I’d sit down in a quiet space and prepare myself to write, has now become something I can do while walking to and from my car in the morning and after work. I can trigger dictation while in conversation with a friend, to capture those moments when the mind is relaxed and flows freely. Unlike those moments when I arrive home home from work, tired and distracted by Instagram all the other things on the never-ending to-do list.

Sometimes I even dictate blog posts or ideas to myself at the gym, which I find ridiculous because I used to be terrible at both the gym and writing, but now I’ve found a way to do both at the same time, which makes me want to stick on the rocky soundtrack a run up the nearest staircase fist-pumping in the air like some sort of heavyweight champion of the productivity world.

My good friend Sylvester is a blogging machine and an inspiration when it comes to penning my thoughts. I’m pretty sure he pays people to do it though, because no mortal could be that bloody prolific and coherent. (Just kidding, he’s a star 🤓). I feel Siri as a personal assistant is like a secret little superpower to get me to that level (not sure if there is such a thing as a little superpower, but you get what I mean). Any hack that makes me that little bit more productive is worth it.

Now when I have an idea, I quickly open up the notes app on my phone and dictate my thoughts while they’re fresh in my mind. And I enjoy doing it too. Anything that can make the process more pleasurable means you’re more likely to do it.

If this trick helps you to articulate your ideas and share them with others more efficiently and effectively, then it’s a win for everyone. If you’re a teacher trying to persuade your students to write reflective blog posts then try recommending this technique to them. This can be a powerful tool for both student and teacher.

If this works for you then I’d love to hear about it. Especially if you have any tips and tricks of your own. Good luck and happy blogging!

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash