About a year ago, I purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking software for my computer. I messed with the little that first week I had it, then I walked away because it seemed too complicated.
A number of friends also purchased the software at the same time since there was a deal going on, so over the course of the year we’ve had many, many discussions about our different hangups about using dictation software. The biggest one being that you have to speak your punctuation. Every mark you’re seeing in this post, has been verbalized.
I get particularly mush mouthed when trying to dictate dialogue, which is a bit ironic if you think about it. The commands are just so unwieldy. I’m sad to report that a number of us gave up on training our dragons pretty quickly.
Did I tell you that my Dragon’s name is Desdemona?
Desdemona wasn’t cheap, so it’s been hard for me to walk away from her entirely. Over the course of the past few months A few of us have tried different things to try to make dictation work for us.
Why bother, you ask?
First, I type all day, then I go home and type all night. That takes a pretty hard toll on your wrists and fingers and I’m starting to feel a little bit of arthritis in my hands. Nothing I can’t deal with, and I actually do yoga stretching for my wrists and hands that has helped quite a bit with keeping them limber, but I can see the proverbial writing on the…page.
Then, there’s the oh-so-tempting productivity aspect of it.
It’s amazing how many words you can speak faster than type. And, I’m a fast typist. With hands on keyboard I can usually put up about a thousand words in an hour. With my headset on, and just free-flowing speech, I can dictate that same thousand words in about ten minutes.
Now, I won’t pretend that the storytelling part of writing a novel comes as naturally as speaking. At this point, it’s easier for me to make the story come out of my fingertips than it is to make it come from my lips.
But, the increase in productivity keeps drawing me back to Desdemona.
One of my goals for this summer was to get better at dictation. I started last week with a voice recording application on my phone. Each day, I have a ten minute ride commute to work. I’ve been using that ten minutes to do what some writers call morning pages. Morning pages or were you pretty much info dump everything your thinking about your writing onto the page. The point is to clear your head so that you can move forward with the work.
I then would have Desdemona transcribe the mornings babblings into a document. The results were sometimes hilarious. And not on purpose.
Still, practice makes perfect. Or, at least a 90% accuracy rate.
I’ll probably be using dictation to write this blog posts each week, because, like anything, the more you practice the better you become.
So this blog post is brought to you by the D: Desdemona, and dictation, and discipline.
A couple weeks ago, I spoke about the inspiration I found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book called BIG MAGIC. One of the bits in her book referred to her attempts at eschewing perfection as ‘the song of the disciplined half-ass.’
I totally ganked that one.
So, here I am, a disciplined half-ass stumbling my way around using this new tool. I can tell you that I am better at it than I was last week. I also have new toys – a swanky headset and a fantastic adapter that will allow me to speak into my phone or iPad if I want to use transcription.
I have everything I need to really rock this disciplined half-assed effort of mine.
Tell me, what dragons will you be taming this week?