Thursday, April 28, 2016

Be a dictator -- talk your book aloud with dictation software

What up everyone! It's KGG and I'm here today to talk to you about dictating. That's right, I said talk. I am dictating this blog post using Dragon Dictate for Mac. I decided to invest in Dragon after I read several threads on KBoards and was impressed by the word count that these authors were managing in such a short period of time.


I've only had Dragon for a week and I am not averaging high word counts for the amount of time I'm investing. I can type faster. But there's a reason for that. Practice definitely makes perfect when you're using dictation software. Also it takes a while before you're able to talk as fast as you can type. But one thing I've noticed is that I'm not as exhausted after dictating a long stretch of words as I am typing the same amount of words. I can dictate 1000 words in half an hour but I don't feel as tired as when I type 1000 words in half an hour.

Dictation certainly does have its drawbacks. The software designed for Apple computers is not as accurate or easy-to-use as the software designed for the PC. Some authors have become frustrated with Dragon for Mac and find that it doesn't give them more time because they're making a lot of corrections. But Dragon is a smart software in that you need to take the time to train it. If you see it's made an error, it's not enough to highlight the word and type it in yourself. You need to go back and tell Dragon to correct the word. That takes time.

As I'm dictating this my daughter is talking in the background to a stuffed puffin. And yet the microphone is not picking up her voice. Which brings me to my next point. You absolutely must invest in a good microphone, either a headset or a standalone microphone. Your iPhone earbuds are not going to cut it.

I would definitely recommend trying dictation whether you opt for it in Google Docs (you need Chrome) or just the built-in dictation in the MacBook. There are authors who buy themselves a portable microphone and dictate on long walks or in the car and then transcribe it later on using Dragon. It's nice to get outside and write your book. I've yet to try this, but I will.

If you find yourself rubbing your fingers constantly or dealing with wrist pain, I would definitely recommend trying the dictation software. If you own a PC, Dragon Naturally Speaking works really well. If you have a MacBook or a Mac computer, Dragon Dictate for Mac is buggy. You've been warned. But it just depends on how much time you're willing to put into training the software. I haven't put as much time and training it because I'm utilizing the software to generate quick first drafts. For me, the writing is in the revisions. And that's when I sit hunched over my keyboard, fingers curled up in the air ready to refine my words. When I'm writing a first draft, it's not that big a deal if it's terrible. As an example, I dictated this blog post, but then I edited it old-school by reading it aloud and refining my language.

If you want to hear about other writers experience using Dragon software. Check out this thread on KBoards.

Have you used dictation software to quickly write your first drafts? Does it make the writing experience easier for you? Or does it frustrate you? Sound off in the comments.

6 comments:

  1. Training dictation software would be really hard for me because I have a slight speech impediment - not enough for people who know me to notice, but enough that it's sometimes hard to make myself understood on the phone with strangers (with no visual or social cues). But typing is sometimes hard too, because I don't have a very good desk setup.

    Obviously I need a device to download thoughts directly from my brain onto paper. :-)

    But seriously, I love your honest review here. Posts like this help people make informed decisions!

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    1. Thanks, Jill. A good microphone usually helps all authors gain better accuracy. I would think you'd be fine.

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  2. I've never tried dictation to write. My fingers tend to 'think' faster than my brain sometimes and I'm not sure I'd have the same results if I tried speaking my thoughts. :)

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    1. It takes practice. Everyone thinks this, but the more you do it, the faster you work. For me, it's cranking out a first draft.

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  3. I talk even slower than I write, but I think this would be a great compliment to pecking away at the keyboard. Very cool idea! Especially when you might not be able to get to a computer right all the time.

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    1. Dictate and take a walk around the block. Frees up a lot of time.

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