Everybody gets cabin fever.
Even if you have a favorite spot at your home, sooner or later, you are going to run into writer’s block.
It would be great if that creative dry period only lasted a few hours, but given the reality of cabin fever, don’t be all that shocked if you find yourself unable to dictate a word for days on end. Cabin fever can destroy your dictablogging productivity.
That’s how bad things can get. This is why I always make it a point to dictate content at my corner Starbucks branch.
When I shared this creativity-boosting and content output-maximizing tip, a lot of people gave me a confused look.
I get it!
Most people are under the impression that if you are surrounded by strangers, you will feel so self-conscious that it would cut down on your creativity.
It’s bad enough when you’re surrounded by strangers as you write.
Can you imagine trying to dictate in such a busy and open space?
But believe it or not, this works for me because when I am surrounded by complete and total strangers, I’m able to focus on what I’m doing.
I’m able to gain such laser precision in terms of intentional action that I could produce hours of dictated content.
This is high-value content, mind you.
I’m not talking about just me rambling on, gripped by insecurity and feeling awkward for several hours.
Instead, I block everything out because I have intentionally put myself in such a “hostile” environment.
Compare this with me trying to dictate content at home.
My kid comes into my home office every once in a while, and I end up checking out whatever Roblox game he’s got going on at that time.
Also, my wife checks in from time to time, and sometimes she takes me with her as she goes about her errands.
Don’t even get me started about the phone and neighbors, friends, and relatives coming over.
As comforting as a home environment and creative space may be, a lot of the times, it isn’t a very conducive place for the kind of intent focus you need to produce a tremendous amount of high-value content.
This is where Starbucks or any other nearby corner cafe comes in.
Since you are surrounded by strangers, instead of feeling awkward or obsessing about whether people would find you weird because you are speaking into a microphone, I use that environment to completely zero on.
Here are just ten reasons why dictating content in a cafe or any other open space that allows for clear enough recording can do wonders as far as your dictation-based content creation efforts go.
1. Dictating in an Open Space Stimulates Creativity
When you are in a new environment, you are shocked out of complacency.
At the back of your head, you are not expecting things to be the same as before.
You are in “hostile territory,” so you are on your toes.
You’re more sensitive to your thoughts.
You’re more aware of the logical patterns of your ideas.
This, in turn, leads you to pick the right words as you dictate and can lead to a higher level of precision as well as accuracy and, interestingly enough, volume.
2. Take Advantage of the Paradox of Reduced Distraction in Open Spaces
By putting yourself in an environment that is full of strangers and all sorts of commotion and activity, you’re giving your mind the opportunity to zero in on what’s important.
You’re not there to gawk at people nor to take in the sights, sounds, and smells.
You’re there to do a job.
You’re there to overcome writer’s block.
You are there to look at the outline you have prepared ahead of time and just knock out each point as the ideas and mental pictures come to you.
By intentionally putting yourself in the middle of some sort of chaos and activity, you are training your mind to reduce distractions and increase focus.
This enables you to stay on task. Your dictations are more likely to remain on message. Eventually, you’re able to finish the job you’re working on sooner rather than later.
3. Get Away From the Boredom of Routine Writing Spaces
It’s one thing to write in a familiar place.
It’s another to fall into a routine.
When you’re writing in a familiar place, this can be very positive because you know that you are safe there and that you belong.
You know that that space is yours, and this enables you to give yourself permission to just let all this creative energy bubble up to the surface and find itself in the words that you speak to a microphone.
If it were only that easy!
The problem is, once you get so comfortable in a particular spot in your home, this can easily lead to a routine.
And when your expectations are slightly thrown off track by other things going on in your life, instead of finding yourself knocking out tasks in your home office or your corner of the bedroom, you find yourself staring at a blank screen, unable to open your mouth.
The clock continues to tick, and before you know it, you spend half the day doing a whole lot of nothing.
This is due to the fact that you have been stuck in a routine.
By dictating content in a cafe or some other open space, you break up this monotony.
It isn’t routine, and your mind is focused on the present moment, on what you’re going to do, on what you’re going to say, and on your command of the outline you have in front of you.
This enables you to knock out the work that you’ve assigned yourself that day without looking back or chasing your tail gripped in analysis paralysis.
4. The Background Noise in Cafes or Open Spaces Can Cancel Out Your Self-Doubt
If you’ve been writing professionally for any period of time, you know what I’m about to say about writer’s doubts.
At some level or other, all of us writers are perfectionists.
We want every word that we dictate or write down by pen or bang out by keyboard to be absolutely perfect.
And this is not going to go away anytime soon.
Depending on where you are and how much time you feel you have left, the need to say the perfect word or write down the absolute best phrase can be overwhelming.
You find yourself looping through many different thought patterns to try to come up with just the perfect phrasing.
In reality, you are simply stuck in a mental holding pattern and wasting a tremendous amount of time.
As long as you’re clear as to the effect on the reader that you want to produce and the string of words that you say are clear enough, you’ve done your job.
But unfortunately, when we are in a quiet spot in a very familiar place, it’s very easy to give in to our perfectionist side and end up wasting a lot of time. A lot of this goes away if you find yourself in an open space, especially when people are looking at you.
In fact, instead of feeling awkward or giving in to the need to explain myself, I use other people’s confused stares as motivational tools to quickly get to the words that I need to express myself and then verbally fill out the rest of my outline.
5. A Cafe’s Ambience Can Deliver a Weird, Soothing Effect
There is such a thing as comfort in chaos.
When you see a lot of people engaged in conversation and cafe staff buzzing back and forth, it may seem chaotic.
There’s definitely a lot of noise generated.
But the key point here is to understand that everybody is focused on what they’re doing.
They don’t really care about the fact that you are at a table, speaking into a microphone, reading from your laptop.
Everybody is doing their thing.
Other people are doing their reports.
Others are washing dishes, making coffee, and talking on their phone.
And by understanding your placement in this concerto of chaos, if you will, it enables you to achieve a deep level of relaxation where you trust yourself enough to say the right word at certain points in your outline or to paint the right mental pictures as you tell a story into a microphone.
This actually ends up speeding up the whole process.
You’re also less likely to repeat yourself.
6. Dictating Content Can Lead to Creative Observations
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have come up with a new angle to stuff that I dictate just by simply looking over to people at the next table.
It’s not really the things that they’re doing or what they look like or the clothes they’re wearing.
Just by exposing myself to other sensory stimuli, I ignite a creative spark in my mind to possibly remember more cogent and effective words to communicate the otherwise confused, complicated, or badly developed idea that I’m trying to get across.
I’m constantly inspired by different phrasings that I’ve used in the past.
As you probably already know, one dead giveaway of bad writing is when you keep using the same phrase.
It’s as if you’re using it as some sort of verbal crutch.
When I’m looking at people I don’t know, there’s just something about the interaction that triggers me to come up with a different, more colorful combination of words that have a more potent effect as far as clarity and content quality goes.
7. The Ability to Move About Helps Prevent Mental Fatigue
When you’re dictating content, one of the biggest dangers that you’re going to have to face is the concept of “mental fatigue.”
The great thing about dictating content, as I have mentioned several times in previous posts in this blog, is that once you dictate a sentence, you don’t have to come back.
You’re done, and then move on to the next point of your outline.
Compare this with writing things manually.
Whether you are typing on a keyboard or writing your text by hand, you get to see what you just wrote.
And guess what happens next.
Your perfectionist side puts up its hand and tells you: “I have a better way of phrasing that!”
Or, worse yet, your internal critic comes in and says: “You got it all wrong!”
Whatever the exact situation maybe that’s going on in your head, you have this almost irresistible urge to just delete everything and start from scratch because you feel that you will come up with something better.
And guess what happens if you decide to do that.
You want to wipe it out again because you’ve come up with something else.
It never ends!
And it’s no surprise that most people who write things by hand or by keyboard are only able to produce maybe 3000 words per day.
I easily write 20,000 words per day through dictation because I don’t have to hassle through that.
One way to maximize that effect is to move around.
And when I am at Starbucks or any other cafe, I get to move around.
I can move from one cafe table to another.
I can go to the bathroom after I tell the barista to keep an eye on my gear.
The ability to just physically get up and move about goes a long way in helping you preserve your focus as you dictate one paragraph and emotionally distance yourself enough from it to move on to the rest of your outline.
8. Dictating Content in an Open Space Exposes You to New Ideas
I’m a firm believer that spaces contain ideas.
I’m not claiming that specific spots in your room have this magical effect on you.
No, I’m not going to go that far.
What I am saying is that certain physical environments tend to trigger your emotions to manifest themselves within a fixed range.
For instance, there are spots in my house that predictably get me to think of adventure, travel, and exploration.
There are also other spots in my home where I can’t help but feel nostalgic.
I look back at certain times in my childhood, and I can’t help but think about fond memories from my teenage years.
When you find yourself in a cafe, you break free from the familiar range of emotional cues you get from your usual writing spots.
This presents a tremendous opportunity.
You’re in an awkward place.
You’re not in a comfortable location.
So, your mind is more sensitive to new combinations, new associations, or even retreaded ideas but presented in a totally different context.
Whatever the case may be, look at dictation writing in Starbucks or any other open areas as being caught in some sort of “creative mental blender.”
All these bits and pieces of ideas, prompts, intentions, and themes fly about, and when they crash into each other, you can come up with new combinations.
You can come up with different emotional interpretations.
It’s an amazing thing.
9. Feeling Awkward Can Create a Sense of Accountability
I’m not going to lie to you.
From time to time, I do feel awkward dictating content in Starbucks.
My favorite Starbucks branch is actually high up in the hills overlooking a massive volcano in the middle of a lake.
It’s an amazing place.
Lots of great scenery!
You can’t help but lose yourself in the vast expanse of the sky.
But since it is quite a popular tourist spot, there are tons of people there, and there’s no shortage of gawkers.
Many people look at me when I dictate, and I look back at them with a smile on my face.
All they can manage is just an open mouth in disbelief.
I don’t read too much into such reactions, but I’ve trained myself to take advantage of such awkward situations.
I read such reactions as an opportunity to practice accountability.
What I’m doing is not weird.
What I’m doing is actually smart because I know how my mind operates, and I know what makes me more productive.
And since I know all of this, I have to be accountable for maximizing my output.
I use the social cues that other people give me to remind me to hold myself accountable.
So when I go to Starbucks, I have a fixed target of words that I’m going to dictate as the number of articles that I’m going to produce.
This enables me to stay on message and to get the job done.
10. Working in an Open Space Can Lead to Greater Discipline
Make no mistake.
Being able to block out social signals, as well as learning to discipline yourself internally and emotionally, are important skills.
They can help you in all areas of your life, from your relationships to school or learning environments to even how you work with other people.
This is why it’s really important to not just look at dictation blogging or dictation writing in an open space as a great way to maximize your output and hone your craft.
You also have to look at how the amount of self-discipline and self-awareness that are required to pull this off successfully can translate to a wide range of benefits in all areas of your life.
The Final Word
If you are struggling with productivity issues for quite some time, consider going to your nearby Starbucks and whipping out your microphone from your backpack, and starting talking away.
You may just end up opening a new chapter in your life as a dictation blogger because this can lead to higher levels of creativity and output.
I’ve been dictation blogging for over 9 years now and it’s truly changed my life. I teach fellow bloggers the ins and outs of voice blogging so they can take their productivity to a whole new level.