Walk, Talk, Write

February 22, 2013


Every morning I take my dog Molly for a walk. The birds sing, Molly poops, and I think (Not necessarily in that order).  And for many years I wrote things down when I arrived home after my walks.

Very recently I decided to flirt with voice recognition to capture ideas.  The results have been remarkable.  The technology has become so good that I can talk freely into my iPhone 5 and most of what I say is picked up.  I record directly into Evernote.  With an open note, I walk with my phone in my hand.  As ideas come, I dictate.

And I’ve become better at it.  When I started I would stutter and stammer, worried about how things would sound.  I was preoccupied with whether the voice recognition was going to work.

Last weekend on an hour walk with Molly I dictated ideas into 11 separate new notes.  Many of these are rough drafts for blog posts.  I’m working with the Mayo Clinic Center for social media on a project. Last week I outlined a nearly complete document while on a walk.

On my arrival home, I open up my MacBook air and all of my comments are right there in Evernote.  I title and tag the notes.  Most of them go into my Sparkfile notebook where ideas for writing sit and simmer.  Sometimes the notes are part of project notebooks related to my work at Baylor College of Medicine.

I’ve always had thoughts while I walk, but the ability to capture them has improved my productivity.  I can’t stop the ideas that come to me at the most unusual times.  Now I have a way to grab them.


Kathy Nieder MD February 23, 2013 at 10:24 am

Does this explain why you’ve suddenly been able to post almost every day lately? Great quality, interesting posts that get me thinking–thank YOU! (And I love Evernote every bit as much as you do. Did you know Brett Kelly updated Evernote Essentials?)

DrV February 23, 2013 at 10:28 am

You’re very kind. And yes, my dictation is part of it.

Cheryl Handy February 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for the Evernote suggestion. I’ve tried Dragon but wasn’t pleased.

On a separate note, awesome pic of Molly. Did you get that fog effect with your iPhone? You should have a caption contest for Molly. She looks like she is looking back at you . . . either waiting for poop scooping &/or dictating.

Keep the awesome posts coming, sir.

Craig Canapari MD February 25, 2013 at 6:44 am

Could you explain your workflow in detail? Do you use Siri to transcribe and send to Evernote? Or does Evernote do the transcribing?

DrV February 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

I begin my walk. I hold my iPhone 5 in my hand. I open Evernote and open a fresh note. I tap the little button at the bottom that looks like a mike, the little voice recognition tone rings and I start talking in to the bottom of the phone. I end the 4-5 sentences and walk a little more. Molly poops. Keeping the same document open I hit record and talk some more. If I move onto a different topic I start a new note.

After you use the application it becomes intuitive. Like an extension of your hand or mind.

Craig Canapari MD February 25, 2013 at 11:58 am

Do you use a service to transcribe your notes or do you do it yourself? I know there are some third party services that transcribe e.g.

DrV February 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm

The voice recognition is adequate. If I had to use a service I wouldn’t do it.

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