I like this from my buddy Austin Kleon: A solution to writer’s block: Transcribe yourself — I do something similar, though not for writer’s block, because that’s an affliction I have never experienced. (“More’s the pity,” some of you are saying.) I use dictation as a means of generating unfiltered ideas, and transcription of the audio files as a way of filtering the ideas I’ve generated.

But I don’t use my phone. I use this:

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Why use a separate device when I could use my phone? Because this thing ain’t connected to the internet. When I’m sitting down to do some serious reading, I don’t want any internet-connected device within reach. If I have a thought about something in a book, I grab this little recorder, note the book and the page, and briefly describe the idea. Sometimes I read a relevant passage into the mic.

Many people want a way of recording ideas that has less friction — for instance, they want a device that will transcribe their spoken thoughts for them. There are times when I use such services (Dragon is great), but I avoid them in my idea-generating phase because I think friction is my friend. It helps me a lot to have my thoughts on a device that I just have to listen to. When I do my weekly review sessions, usually on Monday mornings, I go through all the little audio files I’ve recorded in the past week to listen for ideas that have some value. Then I type out clarified and condensed versions of them, which makes them usable for essays or posts. Again: unfiltered recording, filtered transcription.