The Great Novel-Dictating Experiment

This is day two of my experiment in dictating my novel. I am using the dictation software that came with my Mac. It is a secondhand Mac that I bought a few years ago. There is similar voice dictation software built into the old Windows computer I had previously, but I didn’t use it. Whether you have a Mac or a PC, Google around to find info on the voice dictation software that came with your computer.

So far I have done 1000 words on each of the two days I have been working this way. There are a few little difficulties but I am overcoming them.

You may think that you have to memorize a lot of commands in order to use the dictation. That’s not so. Since you’re going to be editing anyway, you can add many features such as additional punctuation, quotation marks, and other things. You can start out just saying ‘period’ and ‘comma’ to add the most essential punctuation, and saying ‘new line’ or ‘new paragraph’ to add line or paragraph breaks. Actually, using the Extended Dictation on Mac, you are supposed to say “Press return key.”

One problem that dictation software has is with proper names. If your main character is named Tom, Harry or Adolph, dictation can spell it. But if you have strange character or place names, as an fantasy or science fiction novels, dictation cannot handle these names. The solution is to add a placeholder name. Use common names as substitutes for your characters strange real names, or the names of your fantasy cities and planets. Yes, it is silly to have a planet named Iowa when its real name is Glariniafini. But it’s a good workaround. You can just do a find-and-replace during the edit phase.

Fast flow writing

You may have heard about the importance of fast flow writing. This is writing really fast, without worrying about spelling, punctuation or getting all the details right. Dictation was made for fast flow writing. You can produce a lot more text with the fast flow than with more careful writing. Since correction is required in either case, you might as well write faster in the first draft phase. Forget those commas and semicolons! Just write!

I am currently writing this blog post with Extended Dictation, directly on to  WordPress. It’s not as easy as writing it on Scrivener first, and then cutting and pasting. But it is far easier than typing it.

A little trick

Sometimes when I’m dictating a sentence, it clearly misspells a word. Or it gets my words wrong. Often it’s because I didn’t speak clearly enough. When I see this, I just dictate the sentence again more clearly. I can just delete the sentence that did not come out well. Sometimes I’ve said a phrase or sentence three times before Extended Dictation came up with the best that it could do with the sentence in question.

I am still using the dictation that came with my Mac,. I downloaded something called Extended Dictation, which means I can dictate without being connected to the Internet. It works fairly well. At this point I don’t think it’s worthwhile to spend $300 on DragonDictate since I don’t know how long I am going to continue to write this way. The Extended Dictation works well enough for my current purposes.

And so that is my blog post for the day. I hope it will inspire anyone who’s experimenting with dictation software on their own. Please share your experiences in a comment.

 

Link

Use your voice to enter text on your Mac

Dictating your Novel

A number of authors of books on how to write faster have suggested using dictation software to write your novel. Is this really a good idea? Isn’t writing supposed to be about, well, writing? Or could dictating help you write faster or better or overcome Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

I have thought for some time of buying DragonDictate. This is a software which allows you to dictate your text. But I have discovered that both Macs and PCs come with dictation software built in these days. I am dictating this blog post with the dictation that comes on my Mac.

It is awkward. It is a new skill that I have to master if I want to write this way. So far, my work tends to be more prosaic and boring if I dictate it. But I’ve only been doing this for two days.

I have written a post in my personal writing diary using this method. It’s awkward. I think I said that already. I have also started a new WIP using only dictation. I did about 800 words this morning, and after revising, I ended up with over 1000. I feel like it might work for me.

Using dictation is one way a writer with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can continue to write. By dictating, you can avoid having to use your poor abused hands.

You also have to learn a few voice commands. For example, you have to use the words ‘period’ and ’comma’ to add punctuation to your text. (The dictation software did not handle this previous sentence very well.)

Is this worth doing? Even if you don’t have any physical disabilities that make typing hard?

It could be, if only as a change of pace. It’s doing something different. If you feel like a failure when writing the normal way, dictation might be a way to revive your interest in writing.

Can it increase your writing speed? It can be fast, but you have to wait for the software to catch up with your words. And you have to go over to make corrections. But I think I composed this blog post in a shorter amount of time than normal.

Have you ever tried writing with dictation? Did it work for you? If you want to give it a try, do an Internet search on ‘dictation’ or ‘voice to text’. You will find something that will explain how to activate dictation on your own computer. Practice a while. It may be something that is useful for you.