Writer’s Journal: Dictating your book

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Over the course of the last year or two, I have heard a lot about dictation as a method of getting a book written. I know, I know, I thought the same thing: “Um, you’re not writing it if you’re dictating it. Those are two separate things.” This is very true, so a person might wonder why they’d want to dictate.

There are as many reasons for dictation as there are authors using it. One of probably the most important is health. There are writers, like yours truly, who need to be up and moving more, and dictating into a phone app or a recording device allows us to “write” a story while we move … washing dishes or doing a mile on the treadmill or stretching our shoulders and back. Dictation indirectly reduces blood clots, heart attacks, diabetes, impingement syndrome, and obesity, among other things.

A second reason is that some writers have physical conditions that make it difficult or impossible to type, but they can speak. Cerebral palsy is one of those conditions. Stroke victims and people with dyslexia can also benefit from dictating. Maybe a writer has broken his or her arm going roller skating with his or her kids. With dictation, that writer can continue to produce his or her stories, maybe using himself or herself as the main character so we can all read the story of the broken arm at a skating rink. 😉

Some people are simply not able to get thoughts from their brain to their fingers, but can speak them. Dictation is invaluable to these people. In my previous life as a special education teacher, I frequently suggested dictation and read-aloud software to my parents as a way to make curriculum and assignments available to all.

A third reason that is often given by writers that dictate is that dictation quadruples their word count. A writer who is capable of typing 2,000 words in a day can often dictate 8,000 to 10,000 words. When I see an author post in a writer’s group that he or she wrote that many words, my mind now automatically thinks, “Must have dictated.” Now, that’s not saying no writer can type 10,000 words in a day. Some can. It’s just that, in my opinion, the number of folks who are able to is small. I can do about 8,000 but nothing else gets done, and I end the day so exhausted that I fall into bed and sleep for fourteen hours.

My reasons for learning to dictate include some of the ones I have listed above. My most important reason is that I need to be up and moving more often. I do walk a mile or two almost every morning, but then I sit the rest of the day. I’m not benefitting as much as I’d like, so by dictating, I’ll be able to walk on the treadmill and get an extra mile or two in every day. I’ll end up in better physical shape and much healthier, and that’s my goal in the end. I intend to live at least fifty more years and be spry, mentally sharp, and able to navigate the stairs here at Burton Cottage until the day I go home to be with Jesus.

My second reason for learning to dictate stories is that I need to increase my word counts. My income is dependent upon regular releases. I have proven to myself that I can’t manage it with just typing. I have too many other responsibilities that get in the way, things like mowing grass and buying groceries and getting allergy shots. I need to increase the amount I produce in order to maintain those regular releases. I expect this to take a while, and I’ll get into that here in a few minutes.

When I was a teacher, encouraging parents to get their kids using computer programs, it was called “assistive technology.” I’m sure it’s still referred to that way in school settings, but we don’t call it that in writing circles. The most common programs to suggest were Natural Reader for reading textbooks, etc. out loud, and Write: OutLoud and DragonNaturallySpeaking for speech to text. The program I decided to use seems to be the most popular in writer groups: Dragon.

Dragon takes a long time to install, and that I was not expecting. The first time, it took more than an hour and a half. I messed up in the creating of my profile, so I had to uninstall it and reinstall. The second time it went just a little faster, but still was not a quick installation.

Dragon is also going to take a long time to train. Yes, I must train my dragon. 😉 There are books out there that teach you how to do it. I might end up getting one. LOL So, I don’t look for huge increases in productivity right away. I’ll be sure to update you as to my progress!

Do any of you use Dragon? Any tips to share or advice to give?

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3

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