Transcribing is a Ball-Buster

September 29, 2010 in On Writing, Study by pacejmiller


It’s taken me an entire week to transcribe all the interviews I’ve done in the last over the last month or so (mostly in the last couple of weeks).

There was a mixture of 4 or 5 face-to-face interviews that ranged from 30 minutes to 4 hours, plus a couple of phone interviews that didn’t go for more than 10 minutes.  I thought it would have taken 2 or 3 days at the most, especially since I recorded everything on my Pulse Smartpen, which allows you to reduce the playback speed without compromising the quality of the sound.

But no, it was so much harder than I had anticipated.  Part of it was because I felt like taking a break every 5 minutes, but honestly, transcribing is such a ball-buster.  Not only do you have to type fast and without errors, you also have to keep playing the same sentences over and over again until you can get every word perfectly.  This is important, my teachers tell me, because you never know when you might need a transcript to back up something you’ve written in an article.  It’s good to start practicing early.

And when you listen back on conversations, you realise that people hardly speak in complete sentences.  I don’t know if it’s my subjects in particular (who are all very articulate people), but even putting aside the ers and ums and mumbled words, it was often extremely difficult to piece together sentences because seem to jump all over the place and start and stop without warning.  It makes quote-gathering a rather unenviable task.

Anyway, that’s finally all out of the way.  Now I just have the write the damn articles.