Wednesday, April 22, 2020

My book is here!!

It is hard to believe... but nearly two years after I signed the publishing contract... and nearly four years after I completed the first draft... and after more than two decades of dreaming about this moment... my debut novel is out in the world today!!

THE BEST WEEK THAT NEVER HAPPENED is a love story set in Hawaii, with a dash of mystery and magic, about living each day to the fullest. It is available as a print book, an ebook, and an audiobook -- wherever books are sold!

Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble / Target / Books-A-Million / Book Depository



“This debut novel is captivating and moving. A dazzling, emotional story of love, loss, and living in the moment.”—Kirkus Reviews

After her parents’ bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right?

As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams. But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can’t she reach her parents or friends from home? And what’s with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart? Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human.

best week promo image-01

Due to COVID-19, I unfortunately had to postpone all my bookstore events... but the silver lining is that I am doing a virtual book launch that anyone can attend from the comfort of their homes around the world!

On Sunday, April 26th at 2pm PST I will go live on Facebook and YouTube!

For the livestream, I will have a book talk, reading, and Q&A that will be led by the young adult authors Tobie Easton & Jennieke Cohen.

Prizes will also be given out! There will be small prizes for those who participate in a trivia game that will be run in the comments (themed bookmark, postcard, and temporary tattoos!) There will also be some bigger prizes!

Please add the event to your calendar and invite anyone who might be interested!

best week facebook cover

There is even a book trailer! Special thanks to Demi Bernice Eslit & Bryan Murphy for their help with production.

It's also been really fun to connect with book bloggers and websites who have been kind enough to help spread the word about my book! Here is a sampling:
This has truly been one of the best days of my life!! My heart is so full. I feel so supported and loved-- and in this time of social distancing, I feel connected to all of you! Thank you for your support of me and my dreams!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for a short time!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are FOUR contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM--but there is also a red team, a gold team, and a purple team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am excited to be hosting YVONNE VENTRESCA here on my blog as part of the YA Scavenger Hunt! Yvonne is the author of BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES and PANDEMIC (winner of SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award). In addition to her YA novels, Yvonne’s other work includes two nonfiction books and several short stories selected for anthologies, including the newly released middle grade collection, VOYAGERS: THE THIRD GHOST. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she loves a good ghost story and studies karate in a haunted dojo. You can learn more at, where she features resources for teen writers. 

Find out more information by checking out Yvonne's website or find more about PANDEMIC here!
You can also follow Yvonne on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


 About Pandemic 

By Yvonne Ventresca

My young adult novel, Pandemic, is about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu outbreak. As I write this post during Covid-19, I’m struck by the eerie similarity of the fictional world I created and the current events we are now living through. 

In the midst of this, it doesn’t feel appropriate to reveal something light-hearted about Pandemic, like a deleted scene or a Pinterest board. So instead I will share this: my main character, Lil, is a survivor. She is sometimes afraid, and her journey is not an easy one. But Lil ultimately triumphs. I hope you will, too. 

Someday, in the aftermath of Covid-19, you might like to read Pandemic. But for now, I’m wishing all the YASH participants health and safety during these tumultuous times.

In PANDEMIC, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder's sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak--her journalist father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey--Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness. With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil does everything she can to survive. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. 

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by lots of YA authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 11. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, Amy Fellner Dominy!

YASH is now on Twitter and Facebook! You can follow and tweet YASH @yascavengerhunt and the same on Facebook:

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

My Debut Novel is Available for Pre-Order!

Ever since I was a little girl, it has been my dream to publish a novel. And now, after years of writing and rejection and more writing, after three other novel manuscripts that live in my computer hard-drive... that dream is coming true!

THE BEST WEEK THAT NEVER HAPPENED is now available for pre-order! It is being released in paperback, as an ebook and as an audiobook. 

Why is pre-ordering important for authors? (Especially debut novelists like me?) Well, the number of pre-orders tells the publisher, booksellers, and industry as a whole how much desire and interest there is in your book. The first few weeks can make or break a book, and the first novel can make or break an author’s publishing chances in the future.

I would be incredibly grateful if you take the time to pre-order my book!

Read an excerpt of the beginning here: 

You can help me continue to be a #1 New Release on Amazon!


After her parents' bitter divorce, family vacations to the Big Island in Hawaii ceased. But across the miles, eighteen-year-old Tegan Rossi remains connected to local Kai Kapule, her best friend from childhood. Now, Tegan finds herself alone and confused about how she got to the Big Island. With no wallet, no cell phone, purse, or plane ticket, Tegan struggles to piece together what happened. She must have come to surprise-visit Kai. Right?

As the teens grow even closer, Tegan pushes aside her worries and gets swept away in the vacation of her dreams. But each morning, Tegan startles awake from nightmares that become more difficult to ignore. Something is eerily amiss. Why is there a strange gap in her memory? Why can't she reach her parents or friends from home? And what's with the mysterious hourglass tattoo over her heart? 

Kai promises to help Tegan figure out what is going on. But the answers they find only lead to more questions. As the week unfolds, Tegan will experience the magic of first love, the hope of second chances, and the bittersweet joy and grief of being human.

My friend, the amazing young artist Nicole Ham, created two gorgeous custom paintings for the book's pre-order campaign! Everyone who pre-orders the book will receive a digital print of each of these paintings! 


To receive your bonus goodies + be entered to win the grand prize, all you need to do is forward your proof of purchase and your mailing address to


  • a free ebook of my newly released 15th anniversary edition of 3 a.m.: a collection of short stories, including three new stories 
  • a signed, personalized bookplate 
  • a matching bookmark 
  • two temporary tattoos: an hourglass and a gecko (you’ll understand their significance after reading the book!) 
  •  two downloadable digital prints of custom artwork created by Nicole Ham specifically for The Best Week That Never Happened 
  • all of the above 
  • a gecko charm bracelet (also related to the plot of the book!) 
  • all of the above 
  • a print copy of my newly released 15th anniversary edition of 3 a.m.: a collection of short stories, including three new stories! 
Also, for every copy you pre-order, you’ll be entered to win… 
  • a 30-minute call with me to discuss your writing, talk about how to get published, answer your questions about the book, or whatever your heart desires! 
  • a prize package I’ve created just for you from Hawaii: chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, Ohana Bros addictive kettle chips, the best Kona coffee, and a beautiful mug 
To receive your bonus goodies + be entered to win the grand prize, all you need to do is forward your proof of purchase and your mailing address to 

"This debut novel is captivating and moving. . . A dazzling, emotional story of love, loss, and living in the moment." —Kirkus Reviews 
“A poignant and gripping heart-tug of a page-turner filled with heart and hope. I couldn't put it down. Magic.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places and Holding Up the Universe  

"Dallas Woodburn weaves a bittersweet love story between star-crossed lovers—thwarted not only by distance but also by insurmountable tragedy. This captivating, poignant story is perfect for teens on the brink of discovering who they are and what really matters." —Natalie Lund, author of We Speak in Storms 

BOOK TOUR EVENTS (all times listed in PST) 
I would love to celebrate with you sometime this spring! All events will have fun "book swag" like bookmarks and temporary tattoos! 
  • Book Launch: Tuesday, April 21, 7pm, Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, Berkeley (in conversation with YA author Stephanie Kuehn) 
  • Saturday, April 25: 1-2pm, book-signing at Books on B, Hayward 
  • Saturday, April 25: 4pm, Flashlight Books, Walnut Creek (in conversation with YA author Jennieke Cohen) 
  • Virtual Book Launch: Sunday, April 26, 2-3pm, Zoom Web Meeting (in conversation with YA author Tobie Easton)... Join from anywhere in the world at 2pm on April 26! There will be special prizes, a Q&A, and more! Contact me to learn more
  • Sunday, May 17: 1pm, Orinda Books, Orinda (in conversation with best-selling author & SF Chronicle columnist Vanessa Hua) 
  • Thursday, May 21: 7pm, Chaucer's Books, Santa Barbara (in conversation with Woody Woodburn) 
  • Saturday, May 23: 1-3pm, book-signing at Barnes & Noble, Ventura 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


I am hosting a giveaway to celebrate the upcoming release of my debut YA novel, The Best Week That Never Happened. I hope you will take two seconds to enter this contest because it could not be easier, and I have lots of fun prizes to send your way!

TO ENTER: Simply mark The Best Week That Never Happened as “Want to Read” in Goodreads. That’s it! 

Bonus entry: ⇓ share this giveaway on social media and tag me ⇓

  • IG: @dallaswoodburnauthor 
  • FB: @writerdallas 
  • Twitter: @dallaswoodburn 
On December 31st, I’ll be randomly choosing 30+ winners for the following prizes:

Hand-carved wooden snowflake ornaments 

Why wooden snowflake ornaments? Here is a sneak-peek passage from The Best Week That Never Happened to explain how these beauties tie into the novel:

Crowded against the front window is a fake Christmas tree decorated top to bottom with wooden ornaments—“HAND-CRAFTED,” a sign proclaims. Trying to distract myself, I walk over and study the display. Some ornaments are smooth wooden globes, surprisingly light in my hand. Most of the globes are painted with images of Hawaii: surfers, dolphins, ocean waves.

My favorite ornaments are the wooden snowflakes, paper-thin, so delicately carved it is impossible to imagine an actual person crafting them. Maybe, despite the sign’s promise, these are machine produced. I take one in each hand and compare them. It’s clear they are different: one has six narrow points while the other is broader, like a starfish. Could it be possible each ornament is unique, like real snowflakes? That would definitely mean they are hand carved.

The bell jingles.  
I glance over.  
There he is. Kai. 

A few of my favorite YA books 

I wrote about some of these fantastic reads in my post for the “31 days of #quietYA” blog; others are perennial faves that I find myself returning to again and again. I will be giving away new copies of all of these books!

  • Emerge by Tobie Easton 
  • We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund 
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
  • When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore 
  • Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll 
  • Merged by Jim & Stephanie Kroepfl 

So what are you waiting for?? Enter and share with your friends!

TO ENTER: Simply mark The Best Week That Never Happened as “Want to Read” in Goodreads. That’s it! 

Bonus entry: ⇓ share this giveaway on social media and tag me ⇓

  • IG: @dallaswoodburnauthor 
  • FB: @writerdallas 
  • Twitter: @dallaswoodburn

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Guest Article: Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

We’re Plotters Out of Necessity 

by Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl, authors of Merged

There’s an outgoing debate between Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters outline their manuscript prior to touching the keyboard. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants, meaning they rely on stream of consciousness to create the story. J.K. Rowling is a Plotter and Stephen King is the penultimate Pantser.

After comparing notes at writers conferences, it seems that most writers who are working on their first manuscript are Pantsers. We were, and we believe it’s an important part of the writer’s journey. A new writer needs to discover the joy of watching the characters come to life, and be astounded at the unexpected flashes of brilliance. The thought of first plotting every chapter would intimidate many new writers to the point where they’d give up before even starting.

As Pantsers, we threw away months of work because the story took interesting turns, but not ones which necessarily drove the story forward. But, this writing helped hone our craft. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell discovered that what the best-of-the-best have in common is they’ve achieved ten thousand hours of experience. We consider all those deleted pages as our path toward ten thousand hours of writing.

Now, we’re Plotters. We have a large corkboard hanging on the wall, and we use index cards. One card per chapter or scene. We start out with white cards, and after we’ve written the first draft for that chapter, we change the card to a color. It tracks our progress, and provides a sense of accomplishment. Most of our cards only contain ten to fifteen words, just enough to jog our memory about what is supposed to happen in that scene. This method keeps our story on track, but isn’t so binding that we lose the inspiration. It also helps in pacing and recognizing a sagging middle.

Also, since we write together, being Plotters is a necessity. Since we divide the work, we have to be in agreement as to what needs to happen when, and importantly, how the story is supposed to end. It also keeps the dreaded writer’s block at bay. We grab a card, lay it by our computers, and that’s our homework for the day.

Our young adult science fiction novel Merged is being released on September 17, 2019 by Month9Books. Visit us at

About Merged:

Seven of our country’s most gifted teens will become Nobels, hosts for the implantation of brilliant Mentor minds, in an effort to accelerate human progress. But as the line between what’s possible and what’s right, draws ever blurrier, the teens discover everything has a cost.

Scientists have created an evolved form of living known as Merged Consciousness, and 16-year-old Lake finds herself unable to merge with her Mentor. Lake, the Nobel for Chemistry and Orfyn, the Nobel for Art, are two from among the inaugural class of Nobels, and with the best intent and motivation.

But when Stryker, the Nobel for Peace, makes them question the motivation of the scientists behind the program, their world begins to unravel. As the Nobels work to uncover the dark secrets of the program’s origins, everyone's a suspect and no one can be trusted, not even the other Nobels. As the Mentors begin to take over the bodies and minds of the Nobels, Lake and Orfyn must find a way to regain control before they lose all semblance or memory of their former selves.

Click here to order your copy!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Interview with Hope Bolinger, author of BLAZE

You might remember Hope from this interview back in 2016, about her poem "Her Eyes Breathe Life" that was published in Dancing With The Pen II. I was thrilled when Hope contacted me to share news about the publication of her debut novel, BLAZE, this summer (IlluminateYA, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Wow!

In the years since Dancing With The Pen II was published, Hope graduated from the professional writing program of Taylor University and become a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hopes' Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly.

I asked Hope if she would come on the blog to share her journey to publication and answer a few questions, and she generously agreed to do so.

Here is a summary of her debut novel:

If you can't stand the heat, don't walk into the fire.

Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To make matters worse, he — and his three best friends —receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town's prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich "in crowd."

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the "popular and pretty" table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.

What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction? 

Hi, everyone! I'm a 22-year-old literary agent and a soon-to-be-published novelist. More than 300 of my works have been featured in various publications from Writer's Digest to Crosswalk. I'm fresh out of college and am a bit of a pyromaniac and chocoholic.

Take us through your writing process when you were drafting your novel. 

Blaze was honestly a bit of a blur. That summer I was working four jobs and taking two college classes, was the maid of honor in my sister's wedding, and I was dealing with my parent's divorce that summer, but I wanted to get this book done in time to pitch it at the for the Maranatha Conference. You can't pitch a fiction project unless it's all complete. I wrote it in about 45 days. I tried to outline the book in 3 acts, 27 chapters (so 9 per act), and had a basic chapter outline. But, as usual, the characters had a little mind of their own and fought me the whole way through the writing process.

What do you enjoy most about writing? 

Everything. Some days are harder than others. Sometimes you just sit and 5,000 words flow from your fingertips, and others, you struggle to get 500. But I absolutely love all of it. You feel some sort of ecstasy. I've never been in love, but I have an inkling the sensation is familiar.

What was the journey to publication like for you? 

Oh, wow. What a question. I'll try to set up a timeline from when I started writing to now.

  • 2013 - I began writing novels around the age of 16. 
  • 2014 - I picked up a job at a magazine and tried to query to agents and publishers. 
  • 2015 - Frustrated with no results, I self-published my novel "Unmasked" my senior year of high school and joined the professional writing major at Taylor University to learn all about publishing. 
  • 2016 - I picked up a job at a newspaper and pitched to an agent at a conference. Although interested, he turned me down. I co-wrote a WWII Veteran's memoir, published by Taylor University Press. 
  • 2017 - I picked up jobs at publishing houses and working for that literary agent who turned me down. He referred me to another agent, and she picked me up. That summer, I wrote Blaze and pitched it at a conference in September. The publisher told me to send along my materials. 
  • Late 2017-Early 2018 - The book went through multiple rounds at pub board. They liked the concept but wanted a number of edits before they'd proceed with it. 
  • May 2018 - The publishing company offered a book contract. I started working as a literary agent. 
  • February 2019 - I graduated Taylor University summa cum laude. 
  •  June 2019 - My first traditionally published book, Blaze, came out. 
It's been a wild journey. I know 2013-2019 from just starting to getting published may or may not sound like a lot of time. I promise I was hard at work all those years, penning dozens of books. It just takes a long time. The industry is glacial.

What surprised you the most about the publishing process? 

I think platform surprised me. More and more publishers want you to have a social media presence. I grew my platform from 2K to almost 18K in a year for this book launch alone. Publishers want you to pick up most of the marketing work. You can't just get by with an excellent book nowadays. They just have too many authors submitting them manuscripts, so they can be a little picky and choose the ones they know will bring in business.

In addition to being an author yourself, you are also a successful literary agent. Do you have any advice for other writers who dream of being published? 

Of course. Do not ever give up. Almost every point on that timeline, I wanted to throw in the towel. My family and friends wouldn't let me. This industry is cutthroat, tough, and any author is an underdog, even if they've sold millions of copies. Keep writing anyway. You have something important to say, and the world needs to hear it.

Can you share a few of your favorite books or authors? 

Sure! Good ol' JK Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and F. Scott Fitzgerald top my lists. I love the Classics.

What inspires you? 

So many things. As for book ideas, I usually think, "What situation would I never want to end up in?" And then I toss a character in it. I think a great deal of injustice and topics people don't want to address ignite a fire in my bones. The Blaze trilogy addresses anything from corrupt administrations, mental health, school shootings, and loads of other hard topics that we don't want to confront. I want us to tackle them head-on. If we don't, how can we ever formulate a solution to these problems?

What are you working on now? What’s next for you? 

Oh goodness, a dangerous question. So many things: I already have Book Two done, and as soon as my publisher gives me the green light, I'll start Book Three (already outlined). My agent also has three of my YA books, a couple of children's books, and a few other projects on query. I'm always working on something. On the non-author front, I need a job. I'm working seven part-time positions at the moment and have about six years of industry experience. Fun as that sounds, I'd love something a bit more consistent. I've applied to 150+ jobs, but no luck yet.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

If you like boarding school dramas and lots of fire, I'd love if you'd give Blaze a look. And please don't ever give up. The world can always use a little of you and your writing. It takes a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but you'll get there. I promise.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Hope!

Connect with Hope at the following links:

Blaze Extras:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Guest Post from Descript

How to Overcome Writer’s Block with Automatic Transcription

a guest post from Descript

If you’re a writer — of books, essays, scripts, blog posts, whatever — you’re familiar with the phenomenon: the blank screen, a looming deadline, and a sinking feeling in your gut that pairs poorly with the jug of coffee you drank earlier.
If you know that rumble all too well: this post is for you. Maybe it’ll help you get out of a rut; at the very least, it’s good for a few minutes of procrastination.
Here’s the core idea: thinking out loud is often less arduous than writing. And it’s now easier than ever to combine the two, thanks to recent advances in speech recognition technology.
Of course, dictation is nothing new — and plenty of writers have taken advantage of it. Carl Sagan’s voluminous output was facilitated by his process of speaking into an audio recorder, to be transcribed later by an assistant (you can listen to some of his dictations in the Library of Congress!) And software like Dragon’s Naturally Speaking has offered automated transcription for people with the patience and budget to pursue it.
But it’s only in the last couple of years that automated transcription has reached a sweet spot — of convenience, affordability and accuracy—that makes it practical to use it more casually. And I’ve found it increasingly useful for generating a sort of proto-first draft: an alternative approach to the painful process of converting the nebulous wisps inside your head into something you can actually work with.
I call this process idea extraction (though these ideas may be more accurately dubbed brain droppings).
Part I: Extraction
Here’s how my process works. Borrow what works for you and forget the rest — and let me know how it goes!

  • Pick a voice recorder. Start talking. Try it with a topic you’ve been chewing on for weeks — or when an idea flits your head. Don’t overthink it. Just start blabbing.
  • The goal is to tug on as many threads as you come across, and to follow them as far as they go. These threads may lead to meandering tangents— and you may discover new ideas along the way.
  • A lot of those new ideas will probably be embarrassingly bad. That’s fine. You’re already talking about the next thing! And unlike with text, your bad ideas aren’t staring you in the face.
  • Consider leaving comments to yourself as you go — e.g. “Maybe that’d work for the intro”. These will come in handy later.
  • For me, these recordings run anywhere from 20–80 minutes. Sometimes they’re much shorter, in quick succession. Whatever works.
Part II: Transcription
Once I’ve finished recording, it’s time to harness ⚡️The Power of Technology⚡️
A little background: over the last couple of years there’s been an explosion of tools related to automatic speech recognition (ASR) thanks to huge steps forward in the underlying technologies.
Here’s how ASR works: you import your audio into the software, the software uses state-of-the-art machine learning to spit back a text transcript a few minutes later. That transcript won’t be perfect—the robots are currently in the ‘Write drunk’ phase of their careers. But for our purposes that’s fine: you just need it to be accurate enough that you can recognize your ideas.
Once you have your text transcript, your next step is up to you: maybe you’re exporting your transcript as a Word doc and revising from there. Maybe you’re firing up your voice recorder again to dictate a more polished take. Maybe only a few words in your audio journey are worth keeping — but that’s fine too. It probably didn’t cost you much (and good news: the price for this tech will continue to fall in the years ahead).
A few more tips:
  • Use a recorder/app that you trust. Losing a recording is painful — and the anxiety of losing another can derail your most exciting creative moments (“I hope this recorder is working. Good, it is... @#*! where was I?”)
  • Audio quality matters when it comes to automatic transcription. If your recording has a lot of background noise or you’re speaking far away from the mic, the accuracy is going to drop. Consider using earbuds (better yet: Airpods) so you can worry less about where you’re holding the recorder.
  • Find a comfortable space. Eventually you may get used to having people overhear your musings, but it’s a lot easier to let your mind “go for a walk” when you’re comfortable in your environment.
  • Speaking of walking: why not go for a stroll? The pains of writing can have just as much to do with being stationary and hunched over. Walking gets your blood flowing — and your ideas too.
  • I have a lot of ideas, good and bad, while I’m thinking out loud and playing music at the same time (in my case, guitar — but I suspect it applies more broadly). There’s something about playing the same four-chord song on auto pilot for the thousandth time that keeps my hands busy and leaves my mind free to wander.
The old ways of doing things — whether it’s with a keyboard or pen — still have their advantages. Putting words to a page can force a sort of linear thinking that is otherwise difficult to maintain. And when it comes to editing, it’s no contest: QWERTY or bust.
But for getting those first crucial paragraphs down (and maybe a few keystone ideas to build towards)? Consider talking to yourself. Even if you wind up with a transcript full of nothing but profanity — well, have you ever seen a transcript full of profanity? You could do a lot worse.

This article was originally published by Descript.