This past week, I finally took the plunge and downloaded a software called Dragon Dictation onto my iPhone. (I don’t remember how much the app cost. Apparently, I had bought it a year ago when I first heard about it, but I was so scared of the idea of speaking a story that I never used it.) On Tuesday when I was at the dentist with my kids, I searched for speech-to-text software and found Dragon Dictation. Since I saw that I had already purchased it, I downloaded it. I figured, what did I have to lose? The worse that would happen was it didn’t work.
The idea behind speaking your book (rather than typing it all) is to increase the amount of words you can get in each day you work. Has it worked for me? Yes. I was surprised. I though my mind would freeze up since it’s easier for me to think as a type. An author friend suggested I have a couple of things written down for what I wanted to accomplish in the scene before I started speaking the story. She also recommended I go in short bursts instead of trying to talk nonstop for half an hour.
So after scribbling a couple of notes, I told myself I would give it a 2-3 minute try. I hid myself in the bathroom so no one in the house would hear me. (It’s hard to do something like this with someone else around to hear you.) I stumbled through the first couple times I did it. But then I finally managed to get in 100 words that I could actually use in my current work in progress. Encouraged, I recorded more words. I emailed myself the few attempts (just to make sure that part worked). And it did. I copied what was in the email and put it into the document.
I’ve been at this for the past three days now, and today I actually worked myself up to speaking 400 words in the span of 3-4 minutes. Usually, it takes me about a half hour to type out 400 words. I was impressed. While waiting for my kids to get off at the bus stop today, I had spoken a good 2000 words using the small speaking segments. Once the scene was there in my mind, the words came easily. It is a nice benefit that I can speak a lot faster than I can type. So yeah, this method really does work.
I have been able to increase my daily word count by 1,ooo to 1,500 more words. I don’t know if this kind of output will be sustainable. A lot of it may depend on how much I know about what will happen next in the stories I’m working on. At the moment, I know where I’m going in all four books. (Yes, I am currently working on four books at one time.)
As with anything, there are a few drawbacks. (These aren’t major, but I feel like I should mention them.) One, the software doesn’t always know which word I’m actually saying. For example, I had spoken: I want to marry Corin, Loretta. What the software thought I said was this: I want to marry corn lettuce. I also don’t worry about inserting any punctuation. I don’t know authors do that, but I find it easy enough to capitalize the right words and punctuate while I go through the text in the document to clean it up.
Another drawback is that my brain is not used to speaking a story out yet, and I do feel a certain emotional detachment from the story with this method. It’s easy for me to “feel” the story as I type. I’ve been doing this for years, and when I type the story, I am fully engaged with the creative part of my brain. The creative part is intimately intertwined with my emotions. (It’s been that way since I was 14 and writing stories.) When I speak to people, I tend to be logically focused. Speaking a story is forcing me to tap into the creative part of my brain, and I feel like I’m standing on the outside of the story looking in. When I type, I’m inside the characters.
However, when I go through and edit through the material (which I do through typing), I find the creative part catches up to what I spoke, and I can then go in and fill in those emotional details. When I am in the typing mode, I am, once again, inside the characters and feeling everything they go through. I don’t know if I will get to the point where I can speak inside the character’s point of view as well as can type it, but at least if I never do, I can compensate for it. I’m still new at speaking a story into my iPhone.
I’m really happy with this software. I wish I hadn’t dragged my feet on using it. Who knows how much more I could have done last year if I hadn’t let the thought, “I’ll never get the hang of speaking a story,” hold me back? I guess we’ll find out what I get accomplished this year. Then we can take a comparison between 2016 and 2017. Of course, that’s barring anything serious happening, like a family emergency.