Writing On the Go: Writing While Driving Using Dictation

writing on the go

WRITING ON THE GO USING DICTATION IS NOT ONLY EASY, IT’S SMART.

If you’re like me, you spend an insanely inordinate amount of time sitting in traffic. [This is especially true if you live in Los Angeles.] Usually, I fill up this time with podcasts or audiobooks. However, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been thinking about how I could use that time to write on the go? How can I work on a screenplay or teleplay while driving (without actually writing while driving and getting into a wreck)? That’s when I discovered that the NOTES app on my iPhone has a dictation feature!  Check it out below — see the little MICROPHONE button? Press that microphone button and start talking (on your phone, not the picture, dummie).

Writing on the go

Dictation isn’t perfect by any means.

The app gets a whole lot of words completely wrong. And it stops dictating after a paragraph or two for unknown reasons causing you to have to hit the little microphone button again and again (maybe it’s trying to catch up). And when I go back review the dictation, sometimes I have to try and figure out what I just said. But if I’m sitting in my car for 30min-1hour, it’s now entirely possible for me to hit that microphone button and start working out entire scenes in my head. I have figured out so many script problems over the past few months by doing this. I sit in traffic and talk through scenes out loud, while the dictation feature notes everything I say down for me. “What if this happens, no what about this, and then this could happen, and then this line of dialogue could happen.” It’s incredible how much work you can get done thinking out loud in a car for 30 min to an hour.

THINKING ON THE PAGE

Just like the process of “thinking on the page” (where you come up with ideas while writing, rather than coming up with ideas outside of writing), I find breaking scenes by talking out loud to be extremely productive. It FORCES you to work. When thinking about scenes in your head, it’s easy to give up or get distracted. But by thinking about scenes OUT LOUD (just like thinking out scenes while writing them), you’re actively doing something. You’re on a mission. Just keep talking and don’t let yourself stop. And record it ALL with dictation.  Half the time, I don’t even need to go back and read the dictation, because the process will give me the ideas I need to fix the problem or generate the right approach for the scene.

OTHER PROGRAMS

If you don’t have a dictation option on your phone (almost all phones have them now) you can check out some other devices that do the same thing.

It’s amazing what you can do in only 20-30 minutes while thinking outloud. Writing on the go. Give it a try!

Writer Tip: THE INTERCUT aka WRITING PHONE CONVERSATIONS

Writing Phone Conversations

This article will teach you how to write an intercut in a screenplay or teleplay.

Say you have a scene in your screenplay where there are two sides of a conversation (such as a PHONE CALL), or two different scenes happening at the same time, and you don’t want to write sluglines for every scene, you intercut. It looks a little bit like this.

INT. HOUSE – DAY

The phone rings. John picks it up.

JOHN
Hello?

EXT. PARK – DAY

Mary is on the phone looking at the dead dog floating in the pond.

MARY
I think I found your dog.

INTERCUT JOHN/MARY

JOHN
What!? Where?

MARY
At the park —

John grabs his keys off the counter.

JOHN
Stay there! I’m coming–

MARY
–John wait.

John stops at the door.

Mary turns away from the pond in disgust.

MARY
John, he’s dead.

We hold on John’s face and CUT TO:

There you go, a terrible little scene I pulled out of my ass. Can you imagine if you had to write a slugline for every single side of the conversation! That would be terrible!

Not go forth young writers and write many a phone conversation.