Over the years I’ve used all sorts of writing tools. It began with a pen and a notebook being carried around in whatever bag I had at the time; then for a little while, I started carrying a tiny recorder so that I could record ideas as quickly as they came before losing them while looking for my pen. Then cell phone technology evolved and I was able to replace my recorder with the voice technology in my phone. All of these techniques worked well for recording my ideas and rough drafts – and then arthritis came along and attacked my hands, making handwriting a difficult task on some days, until my occupational therapist introduced me to a new method of writing – telling stories with my voice.
Voice technology has come a long way. Now we can activate programs in our computers and talk to them, watching our words pop up on the screen. I often find myself expressing random thoughts out loud and my voice technology helps me reproduce that amazing phrase right at the moment it arrives. Of course there are always challenges with writing with your voice. Technology doesn’t always recognize the words and some major editing is required after using voice technology. This can sometimes be time-consuming, and it can make you feel as if you are writing the same story all over again. I find voice technology works well for micro pieces and for collecting initial thoughts and ideas that will grow into something more. Just like with writing, voice technology takes practice – over time it will become accustomed to your voice and begin to build its vocabulary.
Right now, I’m wearing my microphone and pacing the room while talking out loud. I can capture the words right at the moment in all their original glory. Another delightful aspect of using voice technology, apart from giving my arthritic hands a break, is that I can move around while I work. Movement helps to stimulate my mind and frees me from the “sitting duck” syndrome.
Every method has its virtue and its shortcomings. I still use a variety of different techniques to tell my stories – in the end, it doesn’t matter what method you use – the only thing that matters is that the work gets done.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.