Increase your word count with audio recordings

Back in February of this year I had an event which totally rocked my (writing) world: I was offered a contract by Trifecta Books with a 10/1 deadline. As a previous self-publisher and self-promoter I was in the habit of writing at my own pace – suddenly, I had to write 80,000+ words in a few short months. No big deal for a full time writer but, for a day job worker and father of 6, it felt like a tall order. I needed to find a way to get words regularly, and lots of them.

When looking for places to add writing to my daily schedule, my commute – about 25 minutes each way – was one of the few times I could work with. But, of course, how do you write while you’re driving? You guessed it, record my writing. It works great for ‘reading’ (listening) while driving why not try it for writing?

My first attempt was abysmal. I couldn’t find the words and over half of the recording was silence. But I did get a few words – just a few.

I was going to give up on the idea but it just so happened that Kevin J Anderson was the keynote speaker on the same day I attempted that first recording at the same conference (LTUE) where I sold my book.

In Kevin’s keynote address (which was excellent btw) he talked about how he records his books while he walks/hikes in nature. As a matter of fact, he claims to have written 38,000 words in a single day@! That’s half a novel, easy! Like NaNoWriDay.


I was sold.


From that point on I have been recording words during at least one direction of my daily commute which helped me reach my goal of completing a first draft of my book, Defector, by the end of June.

If you want to give it a try here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t expect a dramatic audio narrative – you’re not recording an audiobook, you’re writing words.
  2. You’re writing words – it’s a zero draft so it’s okay if it’s garbage. Keep moving er…talking!
  3. Don’t be afraid of silence.
  4. Get a good recording/cataloguing system down. I ended up with over 100 recordings for Defector. That’s a lot to sift through. I used Smart Voice Recorder on my phone and I ‘share’ the .wav files to Google Drive. Kevin Anderson uses a digital recorder and, presumably, downloads the files to his computer.
  5. Text to Speech (TTS) might be more effort than it’s worth. I tried a ton of solutions with marginal results. Ultimately, I found that transcribing the audio files was the best solution for me. I can edit as I listen or, if it’s 1 in the morning, I can just type – the creative work is already done. Kevin hires someone to transcribe his words.
  6. 10 minutes = approximately 1,000 words for me.
  7. Don’t give up after the first attempt. It’s going to be awkward for a while – it still kind of is for me but you’d be surprised at how natural it can be once you really get going.

Here’s a sample of my one of my recordings which, hopefully, shows you how rough but effective recording can be:

Not great but good enough to get 75 words in less than a minute.

The results from the transcription are:

“I will not watch you murder another great man” I said raising my sword in front of me.

He laughed. “You still insist on a defensive stance.” A forced bravado was evident in the desperate sound of his voice.

“You still fight like a coward,” I responded “and you know I will kill you here.” I had practiced those words in my head more often than I could count however, I had not practiced the words which followed.

Interested in recording your writing? If you need the words then give it a try. Let me know if it works for you.
Note: Kevin J Anderson has not endorsed this post in any way.

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