The Right Tools For Writers: Voice Dictation

Want to Breathe Fire into Your Writing Output?

As a writer, our biggest limitation  can usually be summed up in one word: “productivity”. If we could somehow write faster, get our ideas down on paper faster, we would almost certainly be doing better – both financially, and mentally.  Pause for a moment and consider how many ideas you have lost over the years because they disappeared before you could write them down. Worse, how many times have you stumbled on a project while you were writing? I think if anyone says otherwise, well – they’re probably fibbing.

Writing is not only an art but also a discipline. In order to maximize one’s potential, the creative process must be refined and streamlined as much as possible. In all my years of writing, nothing has positively impacted my productivity more than voice dictation software.

In the days before Siri, there was already a piece of software that performed the same functionality, but almost flawlessly. This application is called “Dragon Naturally Speaking”. Its first iteration was released almost exactly 15 years ago. Since this 1997, debut there have been gradual improvements to the program that have led to its finest version thus far. If you want to become the best version of yourself as a writer, you should strongly consider getting it.

This state-of-the-art product provides the sort of utility that will imbue you with confidence as you improve in your craft. I recognize the above sounds aggrandizing yet it is true. Dragon Naturally Speaking, Version 11 is a very accurate tool chock full of robust features that maintain its status as the industry leader in transcription software. Its capabilities are vastly superior to the primary competitors in the marketplace. More importantly, its value as a productivity tool for a content creator is exponentially more than its modest price tag.

In order to understand the value of software such as this to the writer, we should examine the uncontrollable nature of the creative process. This will enable me to enumerate the ways dictation software directly improves output. The brutal reality of creative writing is that ideas are frequently mercurial. By the time they have registered in our consciousness, they are already in danger of being forgotten. How many great ideas would you estimate that you forget in a week? A month? Your lifetime? This depressing realization is simply the big picture aspect.

Now consider the daily grind. Your synapses fire at an impossibly fast rate. Can your fingers keep up? Hardly. Every split second that passes when your brain speeds along as your hands fail to move at the same speed is time that an idea slips away into nothingness; furthermore, if you make a typo, all hope is lost. What’s the solution to this problem? Strap on a headset and talk through your ideas.

The Right Tools For Writers: Voice Dictation

I recognize that this solution sounds too simple, too straightforward. Don’t over-think it. This is the beauty of Dragon Naturally Speaking. So much of the creative process is out of our control. We are slaves to inspiration. During those rare bursts when we know exactly what we want to say and how to say it, dictation is far and away the safest method to perfect our ideas. In fact, its utility exists beyond that initial moment of clarity.

After the writer has voiced their thoughts and Dragon has recorded them, the words appear on the computer screen. The process of dictation automatically places the author on the second draft before a word is ever typed. This propagates back to the content as once the words are said out loud, savvy scribes immediately appreciate the flaws with the initial wording. The editing process is seamless, almost automatic.

This is a side benefit of dictation. We appreciate and address our mistakes quicker and more aggressively. Poorly written words on a screen are irritating. Awkwardly spoken words are an affront; such indignities must be rectified as fast as humanly possible. Hearing the words improves the content, because all writers know that truly we are our worst critics. We are painfully aware of the mistakes that lessen our work, holding us back from greatness. Any system that allows us to target and correct these disruptive minutiae is welcome.

This is why Dragon Naturally Speaking is a writer’s best friend. I say this with confidence because I wrote…well, spoke this article using the software. What would have taken me three times as long and turned out poorly is instead streamlined and instantly compiled. Talking out a column is so much more effective than typing.