Journaling 201: Audio

the great flying audio recorderhello all,

Welcome to the second lesson in your journey to become a journaling pro. (The beginner’s guide is available here, if you want to catch up on prerequisites.)

Basically your sophomore level course is a little bit more experimental: talking. The straightforward written-in-ink-and-tears journal, although a classic, can be somewhat monotonous. It has an air of teenage drama, and I know that sometimes my chickenscratch writing is an undecipherable mess. Audio, however, is another beast entirely. Fans of Twin Peaks will recall Agent Cooper’s fanaticism about recording his notes for the mysterious Diane. (You can actually listen to an audio-only version here.) To me, while a written journal feels melodramatic, an audio journal seems to mix mystery and intimacy together. Listening to one feels like listening to a person’s thoughts.

The really cool thing about audio journals is that they feel a little foreign to us. We’re not used to them, and ot only do you get your thoughts out of your head, out into the air, but you have to carry on the whole thing yourself, in real time. At least for me, it’s a little uncomfortable. Lots of people hate their own voices, because they don’t sound the way they think they should, but I think the act of listening to yourself makes you more mindful of your speech.

Of course, you’re unlikely to have a cassette-recorder laying around. (Although if you’re the kind of person who goes in for all that retro/analog stuff, it probably wouldn’t be to expensive to get one.) I think the easiest way to record yourself for most people is going to be using modern technology, whether you have a voice memo app on your phone or a microphone for video calling on your computer.

Some tips on recording yourself:

  • Get comfortable with the idea of speaking aloud to yourself. It can feel awkward to make noise without somebody else expecting you to, but you’d be surprised how good it can feel to let go of that inhibition.
  • Make yourself listen to your own voice without judging it. If you find yourself criticizing it, go ahead and listen to it a couple more times.
  • Let your thoughts wander around. My favorite audio entry that I’ve done is a “haiku” I wrote that was basically just miscellaneous phrases that I said as they came to me, but for some reason I feel like it is one of the most realistic portrayals of what my brain is like.
  • Obviously you can do whatever you want, but it can be helpful to imagine yourself talking to somebody, real or imaginary. (re: Diane)
  • I like to do my audio entries on really specific topics, and keep them as short snippets. For example, one of mine is about forty seconds detailing a conversation I had with Siri while hunting for easter eggs. These are less the play-by-play what-happened/how-am-I-feeling entries that I write, and more of a snapshot of a topic.
  • DO NOT DELETE ENTRIES, JUST DON’T DO IT. If you feel like you want to, make a note in the title, but wait a little while to do so, because if you delete it because you’re embarrassed or whatever you may regret it later, and when it’s gone it’s gone.

This whole exercise may feel weird. It may feel cheesy. But trust me on this and try it, because if nothing else you figured out how to use the memo function on your phone and you never know when you”ll need to use that. In all seriousness though, it’s worth a shot, and you can get incredibly weird with it if you want, adding sound effects and selecting background noise and talking to yourself in the middle of the night in your closet or outside among flowers and nature and all that.

keep talking, motor mouth,


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