A few weeks ago, I added a dragon to my working repertoire. Before you raise your eyebrow at me, let me be clear I’m talking about Dragon Naturally Speaking, the voice writing software system. This allows me to dictate words to a text editor rather than type them using my hands.
The two reasons I did this
The main reason I added this software was to increase my word productivity. It’s that simple. I wanted to produce more words, and I wanted to do it safely and easily.
When it comes to producing words safely and easily, you may have questions. How hard and how dangerous can typing be? Well, when you’re producing 1 million words a year, the issue is one of repetitive stress injury. I am reading about more and more writers who struggle with finger and wrist problems. I’d rather not be included in their number.
My main concern was whether using software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking would increase my word count or whether it would be “one more thing” to complicate my life.
A few years ago, I installed this software on my Mac and it was an unmitigated disaster. The software was buggy, and after two weeks of trying to make it work, I gave up.
This time around, I did a significant amount of research about the topic. I read some author blogs, listened to a few podcasts, and I even purchased an e-book. I was satisfied this software had developed enough to make it useful, but I took it one step further.
Even though I run a Mac system, the recommendations were to use the latest Windows version of this software because the Mac version isn’t as good. (I don’t want to enter any conversation about whether Mac or Windows is better but in this case Windows wins any contest.)
To run the Windows version of Dragon Naturally Speaking, it was necessary to first install a virtual machine on my iMac. While there are several options available, I went with software named Parallels.
After Parallels was installed, I then had to download and install Windows 10 to run the voice recognition software. With Parallels running Windows 10 I installed Dragon Naturally Speaking.
My personal reaction to this
Talking to a microphone instead of typing is an interesting change in work behavior. There are a few things that I need to do in order to become productive:
- Relax when I’m talking.
- Work out a workflow so I know what I will talk about.
- Learn the software commands so I can add it to the finish dictation and teach the software to be more efficient and accurate. I’m told I should be able to achieve a 98% accuracy rate after training.
- I need to learn to know all the things I don’t know yet. Or, the things I don’t know I don’t know yet.
My personal sense of this is that I can type approximately 1000 words an hour of nonfiction. But I know 100 words is roughly one minute of a podcast. That means if I’m speaking at 100 words per minute, I’m producing significantly more words per hour than if I were typing them.
That assumes I can learn how to speak or create as fast by using my voice as I do when I am typing.
So you’re seeing this in action, or rather reading the first output of this right now in this article.
It took approximately 40 minutes for me to dictate/correct using the software editing system, the (approx) 680 words in this article. So not great but I’m at the beginning phases of trying to a) learn the software and b) have the software learn my way of speaking.
I’ll update you after I get it up and running properly.