When I first started out as a freelancer I was focusing more on magazine writing.  And as most writers know unless you’re an expert in the field, who knows everything about everything, then you’re going to need to conduct interviews to get quotes and add value to your piece. I enjoy speaking with different people from all walks of life because I get to learn some new things along the way. Because my writing tends to focus more on medical and health issues, I pick up all sorts of interesting gems of information from nutritional foods right in my cupboard (Who knew!) to alternative and complementary medicinal practices (That makes me say “OM”).

But once the interviews over, I’m filled with a sense of anxiety — really, a sense of urgency about the interview. No, it’s not about whether or not I missed a vital piece of information or if I failed to ask the most obvious of questions. I can’t really say that it’s even an issue of reflecting back on interview and wondering if I pushed the boundaries in my line of questioning.  Actually my sense of urgency come from my resistance to the process of transcribing.samsung digital voice recorder yv-120 (ii)  Forget the fact that I cringe at the thought of just listening to my own voice (c’mon I’m not the only one who feels this way). Considering that I may have a couple of interviews to transcribe for different articles the idea of listening to my voice over and over again is not something that I look forward to. But besides that I think the process of transcribing digitized interviews is the fact that it is a super duper time consumer. Take one featured health article that I’ve written, I most likely interviewed three to four experts and each interview will last anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes.

At the start of my freelancing career, I was heavily focused on magazine writing.  But once reality set in (the bills do have to get paid), my dreams of seeing my name in the big-time glossies began to fade away–quickly.  And my lofty goals of magazine writing were replaced with a sudden urgency to write for content mills.  Thankfully, before I became a content mill writing junkie (I had a short stint with Associated Content before the Yahoo takeover), I found an alternative stream of income within textbook publishing, book researching, and ghostwriting.  All of these opportunities were literally just a matter of luck.  In another post I’ll talk about how I turned a one time opportunity into a great professional and personal relationship that fostered new work opportunities for me.  But back to my issue–transcribing.  Not only do I loathe the process of transcribing, I just don’t have the time anymore–not even even with my trusty text-to-speech software, Dragon Naturally Speaking (which I love and I’m actually using to write, really dictate, this blog post).

My workload has been a bit skewed lately as I’ve been focused on other things besides magazine writing. And although I have a few articles slated to appear in a trade magazine in the coming months (as well as a health piece an editor approached me about), I’m trying to get back into the swing of things because I do enjoy magazine writing.  And a  series of events in my family has raised a myriad of health questions in my mind that I’m getting ready to pitch to a few publications. With that said I think I’m ready to utilize an outside service to handle my transcription woes.  But, I’d like to do some research and before making a final decision.  In the meantime, I think I’ll stick to the time-saving advice from Linda Formichelli (Renegade Writer) who suggest transcribing just the bits of your recording that you need to use to include great quotes and information in your article as opposed to transcribing the entire recording.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how other writers handle transcribing interviews. Do you use a transcription service? Did you hire a college journalism major?