For the past two months, I've been having some medical issues that have made working at my computer uncomfortable and painful. My writing output nosedived as I struggled to keep writing even when it hurt. With the dawn of the new year I decided that I would try something new. Partially inspired by Joanna Penn’s book The Healthy Writer, I decided to give dictation a try.

What's kept me from making the leap is that everyone recommends Dragon Dictation, and, to be fair, it seems to be an amazing product for dictation. What's less amazing is the $300 price tag. I didn't have that kind of  money to throw at something I wasn't sure would even work. While looking for alternatives to Dragon, I realized I had an answer right in front of me. My MacBook comes with dictation software already in the general settings. I turned it on and gave it a run.

At it first it was terrible.

Example from session one. Yeah.... Not even close to what I said. 

Example from session one. Yeah.... Not even close to what I said. 

It got maybe one out of seven words right. It was awful and I figured well dictation isn't for me. But then I thought maybe the problem isn't the software but with using the internal microphone in a noisy space. So I pulled out my snowball, locked myself in my closet to have a quiet space, and gave it another try.

This time it worked like a dream. In 25 minutes I had dictated 3000 words. And most of them we're what I had said. It honestly amazed me. 

So I've kept up with that, and for the past week, I've been working on dictating everything I type. Any time I want to write or I need to get an outline together, I pull out my microphone and go.


Now, it's by no means perfect solution. It requires a lot more editing, not to mention it can be a little awkward speaking your stories. The grammar is strange to have to voice out loud. For example, to get a dialogue line written you would speak:

Begin quote

I hate you

comma

end quote

he said

period

new paragraph

Which would translate to:

"I hate you," he said. 

It's strange getting the hang of and writing the fight scene was a particularly strange experience. It takes a little while to get used to sitting dialogue tags and speaking with the grammar and punctuation necessary. However, over the weekend I've already gotten a lot more confident and feel a lot better about my dictation period

I'm hoping that I will keep up with this dictation. In fact my goal for January is to dictate the draft of my next novella. It's certainly going to be a new experience but I'm excited about trying it out.

So if you're thinking about giving dictation a try, don't let price tag keep you from making the switch. Check your laptop or computer and see what options are already built into the settings. There maybe an alternative you can use. I do suggest using an external microphone that you can adjust to be closer to your mouth. But there are some really great options out there at some pretty reaonsable price points.

So that's my experience with dictation so far a week and a half in. This whole blog post was written entirely by dictation, pretty neat right? So give it a try see how it feels see what happens, at worst, you've lost a little time trying something new. That best, you've found a new way to revolutionize your writing.

Source: Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash