(Actually, it’s day two of testing dictation, but yesterday was such a mess that I don’t count it.) Dictation is an interesting concept. It conjures up memories of grade school exercises with my teacher walking up and down the classroom enunciating words loudly and clearly. She was reading, remembering to pause and say “comma”, “colon” or “full stop” at the appropriate times.
Here I am today, on the train, my dictation exercise cut short by a couple of guys who parked themselves next to me. My self-consciousness in overdrive. I have resorted to tapping my blog post into my phone.
Regardless of my shyness, dictation comes with clear benefits. The first of which is its hands-free words inputting system. Second, because of this, you can end up being extremely productive when normally you wouldn’t get anything done. (Because tapping into my phone has become so cumbersome, I have forced myself past my shyness hump, and I am back to dictating again–nevermind the two guys who parked next to me on the train. (Who knows, maybe it will actually scare them off?))
One of the drawbacks of dictation, is that you have to think about punctuation as you go along. For instance, right now, I am actually saying out my sentences thinking them as if they were appearing on a computer screen. The dictation software I am currently using, Dragon Dictate (a free app available online for those of us with smart phones) is actually very good. I haven’t conducted any introductory tests with this program and it seems to be able to understand the words that I’m using very easily.
Another drawback of using dictation software, is really having to know what it is that you want to say. I am used to editing as I type. So I’ll punch in a few words and then delete a word and replace it with something new. With dictation, you have to know what it is you wish to say and edit or punctuate as you go along. Or maybe you have to have a good visual image of your words so that you can be edit on the screen in your mind as you go along.
All in all, the drawbacks of using dictation software is far outweighed by its greatest benefit, namely productivity. For example, right now I am actually dictating a blog post that I wouldn’t get around to writing if I were simply on my morning commute. And by the time I would have hit my desk, I would have forgotten what it was that I wanted to express.
I do think, though, that this will be kind of difficult for introverts as I am. At this very moment, for example, my train is just pulling up to my stop and I am basically talking to myself. On the other hand, I am pretty impressed not only with the dictation software, but also my productivity. I don’t think I have ever written a blog post on the train that, for the most part, is ready to post.
P.S. For those of you curious about writing your books via dictation, you might be interested in my word per hour result with this first attempt. This blog post clocks in at around 515 words (before the post-script) and it took me the whole 40 minute train ride to dictate, tap and edit it on my smartphone. Basically, it clocks around 769 words per hour, which isn’t bad for a first run.