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On Ideas, Dictaphones and Writing

I do not know when I hit upon the idea of using a dictaphone, it was probably on the advice of a writer friend. I have never regretted following that piece of advice.

The digital dictaphone has become as much a part of my life as my cellphone and ipod, and I have come to rely upon it probably as much.
It is with me when I go out jogging by the bay or working out at the gym: it is full of huffs and puffs that punctuate the notes I have hurriedly taken.

It is with me as I push my cart at the mall picking up my grocery, and I whisper into it, instantly taking down a turn of phrase. I am a little surreptitious about it in public places, holding the dictaphone more like a regular phone. But I think I manage fine. And if a few people think I am a scatty writer, well, they are right!

I usually download it all into my mac at night, emptying the recorder, and sometimes jotting down a few lines on each idea. Comes in very handy when I am stuck for writing ideas later.

But the best is when I am stuck with a chapter or an ending to a story or an article I need to write. I read it aloud at home recording it as I speak (that is a good way to proofread/edit it too, once you get the hang of it). Then later either before going to bed, or when I am out on the road in a car I listen to it playing through the headphones I attach to my dictaphone…and voila, a good 7 times out of 10 I have an idea for the piece!

Long live dictaphones, and the guys who made them.

If you are also the sort who sprouts brilliant ideas at inconvenient places, cannot seem to keep track of pens and notebooks, and forget most of those creative gems which are forever lost, well, a dictaphone might just be the thing for you.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Anonymom says:

    Thank you for the excellent idea!

  • DG says:

    You are welcome, Bob. This device is a small investment with huge returns.

    I will check the site, the concept sounds interesting!

  • DrBob says:

    Hi. Thanks for posting this. I’ve wondered about using a dictaphone for this purpose for ages but I think you’ve finally inspired me to go out and get one!
    By the way, you might find an interesting site for storytelling using a mix of audio, texts and photos

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