Dictation: Over Before It Started

Dictation using wax cylinder phonographWell, so much for that.

I attempted to dictate what will be the final novella of the Compact Universe series (for now). It was an unqualified disaster.

I thought basically going out on the back deck before work and using my iPhone to feed this into Google Docs was the answer. Well, no, it wasn’t. I write science fiction, and too many of the words I have to train Siri to understand. Now, if I had Dragon, which is the premier speech-to-text software, I might have had a shot. But that lives on your laptop, your desktop, or your tablet, which kind of defeats the purpose of dictating. I wanted to be able to do it anytime, anywhere. Driving down the road alone in my car? Hook up the blue tooth and tell Siri what I want to say.

Unfortunately, it starts with a character named Mitsuko, and that just confused Siri. I got “let it go,” “Mexico,” and “Mitu go,” all incoherent. And what Siri wrote was a complete mess. Go back and correct it later? Forget it. I’d just dictate three paragraphs and couldn’t decipher it at all.

That’s not to say no one should try dictation. Other writers have had great success with it, but WarpedTishla, and parts of Second Wave were written in Dragon, and the betas were not shy about telling me where I missed fixing Dragonspeak. So it’s not going to work. For me.

In some ways, that’s too bad. Mark Twain dictated vast swaths of his autobiography, so why can’t I? Because I actually type faster than I talk. My wife just started work at my day job. She tells everyone in the office my typing intimidates her. Why? Her last job was as an office manager in a home healthcare company. They had laptops with touchscreens. Boom boom boom. No typing at all. I have typed for the last 30 years, first with what I called a “six-finger” technique (thumbs on spacebar, the other two fingers on each hand doing their own hunt-and-peck), then learning the home keys. I though my typing was slow, but what happened was that I simply wrote a lot. Then I began writing code for a living. Yeah, that increases your speed like nothing else. So typing it is. In good ol’ Microsoft Word. Yeah, I didn’t like Scrivener much, but for the price, I definitely recommend all writers give it a try.

I just have to accept the fact that I’m a typer, and that I don’t need software managing my prose for me.

Get off my lawn!

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