In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out something new – writing by dictation. In fact, I’m writing right now using dictation software. Specifically, Dragon. The concept, according to a lot of writers who are switching over right now, is that you often can talk a great deal faster than you can type. Writers who get very good at dictation, therefore, report tripling their words speed on rough drafts. The process can create quite a bit rougher of rough draft, but I’ve never been scared of revision, and in the post-baby world I have a great deal less time and a great deal less energy. Faster rough drafts, even rougher faster rough drafts, would be very much appreciated right now.
Dictation also seems extremely useful for days like this, when I’m struggling with a back injury, I need to walk, or both. It has its downsides – everything does – but I’m cautiously optimistic. Thus far, it seems to be helping me move past my mental blocks and actually get some words down the page. Not faster – thus far I’m clocking about a thousand words an hour, the low end of normal for me on a good day writing by typing – but certainly comparable speeds at the moment. If I actually sit down and try to write 20% to 40% more often, still in a net gain for me overall. And there’s plenty of learning curve left to go, so in theory I could stlll speed up a lot.
On weeks like this last week, where I’ve been battling back pain, having the option to speak into a microphone rather than having to be stuck in a strick (painful) seated position also seems useful. There are rumors that writers who are good at dictation learn to speak into the microphone while walking, and if this works for me I could see it being highly beneficial in a number of ways, not least of which because the back likes walking right now. Still, early days!
I’ve been reading a number of books by Monica Leonelle, including Write Better, Faster and Dictate Your Book. One of the things she recommends is to keep a good log of your writing progress, and ideally to keep track of your journey through journal entries. She did so “in public”, on her blog, and I plan to do the same. I am highly unlikely to hit the huge measures of productivity that she did, given the incredible amount of things I have going on – including a new part-time gig (yay!) – but I can still get better. I’m hoping that having the courage to struggle and to get better “in public” will help me also to have courage on the page.
I look forward to speaking with you further. 🙂