A few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to a concept called the artisan trap. It was immediately familiar to me, the idea that those of us who craft custom products for clients find ourselves constantly switching between business mode and crafting mode. That my time spent trying to grow A Fine Press is time not working on client projects.

As A Fine Press grows, I have found myself trying to find ways to reduce the time spent working on the business and free myself to spend more time working on your project. It’s not productivity for productivity’s sake but productivity in service of craft.

One thing I’ve experimented with to try to be more efficient is using digital transcription to produce written content. In fact, I’m writing this blog post by transcription.

It’s only been in recent weeks that I’ve grown to incorporate Evernote into my workflow. This week, I started experimenting with drafting blog posts Evernote using Google’s speech to text engine on my android phone. It’s not the most elegant solution in the world; there are apps designed specifically for digital transcription. However, this is a great way to get my initial thoughts out of my head and onto the page.

Here’s my workflow:

  • I open a new note in Evernote on my phone (Evernote has a handy home-page doc for 1-touch notes).
  • If the post I’m writing is fairly complex, I may start by typing a minimal outline to keep me on track.
  • I then tap the microphone on my keyboard to access Google text to speech function and dictate a paragraph at a time. If there’s too much silence or I speak for too long, the text to speech function shuts off and I have to record again. I find that I’m typically able to speak individual paragraphs with some fluidity and in a period of time short enough to capture the entire section.
  • Of course, the dictation doesn’t always come out looking great. In fact, it sometimes requires quite a bit of editing after the fact. I’ll do my quick and dirty editing right on the phone, as it may be a while before I give it a final edit. For that, I open the synced note on my laptop, where editing comes to me with much more ease. It’s also a little strange to get used to the idea of speaking my punctuation – “Here’s my workflow :colon: I open a new note…” – and when I need to write the word “period”, the phone inserts a “.”
  • A post like this might take 10 minutes or less to dictate and another 10 to 15 minutes to edit. If I were typing this post from scratch, it would likely take me over half an hour. I believe that, with practice, my efficiency will increase quite a bit. Even if this didn’t speed things up, it’s an opportunity to focus on writing in a way that’s more natural to my speaking voice, hopefully making it more conversational.

While I’m specifically using this workflow for blogging and business writing, I can see this being very helpful to anyone who needs to write more than they currently are: a marketing exec planning a presentation, a bride writing her vows, or a preacher planning this week’s sermon. One of the great benefits of this workflow is its hands-free, meaning I can compose posts even when my hands are occupied (say, while driving)

I’m thankful that this affords me more time to serve my clients while still serving the business side of A Fine Press.

How about you? In what way is can you see using dictation on your phone to free you up to do the things you would rather be doing?

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