by Becky Wade
In the past, whenever I heard authors touting the benefits of dictation, I’d nod politely while inwardly thinking, That is NOT for me. I couldn’t do it. My writing process includes sitting in front of my computer while blanketed with quiet.
Then I read an article in RWA’s Romance Writer’s Report about how much faster an author can write her rough draft if she speaks it aloud and lets voice recognition software do the typing. It gave me pause, that article. I’m a slow writer and penning the rough draft isn’t my favorite part of the process. Just how much more quickly and easily could I write the rough draft through dictation? Was my computer really an integral part of my writing process?
There must have been a few feather quill writers who were sure that the pen was not for them. And pen writers who were sure the typewriter was not for them. And typewriter writers who were sure the computer was not for them. It occurred to me that the only truly necessary item in my writing process might be… my brain.
I bought and read Dictate Your Book, How to Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter by Monica Leonelle. It’s full of practical advice and it did a solid job of laying out the benefits of dictation.
So, full of enthusiasm, I gave dictation a shot.
Wonder of wonders — I thoroughly enjoy it. My process doesn’t necessarily involve sitting in front of my computer while blanketed by quiet, after all!
That said, it did feel awkward to speak the scenes at first. Also, I had to become accustomed to stating the punctuation. For example, while dictating dialogue I might say, “Quote You’re handsome Exclamation point Want a job as my next romance novel hero Question Mark Quote Becky asked period” It seems unwieldy, but I got the hang of it rapidly.
Here are 3 REASONS TO TRY DICTATING YOUR BOOK:
1. Dictation is fast. After just 30-45 minutes of dictating, I can hit my daily page count goal. I spend plenty of time editing the previous day’s work before I dictate. And after I dictate, I spend time re-working and adding to the dictated scene. But I only spend 30-45 minutes filling the dreaded blank page…without ever having to stare at a blinking cursor.
2. Dictation will slay your internal editor. I’m often impeded, during the writing of the rough draft, by my internal editor. She’s the one who wants the writing to shine. She wants setting detail (but not too much!), character arc, a spiritual thread (but not too much!), witty dialogue, dazzling voice, tension, pacing, romantic sizzle (but not too much!). Frankly, she slows me down. She demands that I write something perfect when it’s in my best interests to simply race forward and get the story down. If you’re dictating, there’s NO WAY your scene can or will be perfect, so the internal editor has to go back to her office, shut her door, and leave you to the business of telling your story.
3. Dictation is portable. I don’t love sitting at a desk for hours on end. It’s boring. And unhealthy. Thanks to dictation, I now write my book while walking around my neighborhood. I write while gardening. I write while driving car pool.
There are plenty of dictation products to consider: software, microphones, recorder apps, and more. Before you wade into any of that, though, I suggest you try dictation on your phone or computer for free.
Even months into using dictation, I simply click the “Notes” app on my iPhone, open a new note, hit the microphone button next to the space bar on my phone’s keyboard, and start talking. When I’m ready to move the dictated scene to my computer, I export it using Airdrop and it instantly appears on my desktop. Then I copy/paste it into my manuscript.
Both PCs and Macs are equipped with speech recognition capabilities. Google “How to dictate on Word” or “How to dictate to a mac” and you’ll find step-by-step instructions.
Who here uses dictation regularly? I’d love to hear your tips!
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