Dictation: Salvaging Nanowrimo after a wrist fracture
September 2015 was my Nanowrimo pre-preparation month. I knew which story I wanted to write and planned to dedicate October to brainstorming and outlining. Before undertaking planning, I thought I’d take time in September to get all my tools together.
I made sure the MacBook was in working condition and that I had the current Scrivener version. I double checked my external hard drive, Time Capsule and thumb drives for backups.
Initially, I was not sure about diving into dictation on my MacBook again as I’d had trouble the first time around. The original Mac Dictate I used in 2012 had not been as smooth as the PC version I use it work. I found the program frustrating.
However, this was to be a November of discovery for me. I knew I wanted to blog a journal of the month for myself. All this writing was about discovering my process.
Something in me said to give Dragon dictate another try. Now on version 5, I hoped they’d made significant improvements. In many ways, I was right and in others I was wrong. Overall Dragon Dictate version 5 is a much better product, it just functions in a different way and still requires time and persistence to master.
One day I stumbled across a kindle book entitled, ” The Productive Author’s Guide to Dictation,” by Cindy Grigg. This $4.99 e-book is subtitled “Speak your way to higher healthier word counts.” I don’t see an available print version, but the description declares it is 184 pages in print form.
More like a booklet, this manual reads shorter than 184 pages. The price seemed a bit steep, but I found the contents well worth the price. The author is very clear and honest about the scope and intent of the book.
The pages are full of helpful information gleaned from the author’s apparent hands-on experience. Tips and tools about software and hardware for dictating on a Mac, PC, iOS and Android systems (built-in and external) is updated for 2015 (up to Mac OS Yosemite and Windows 8). It also covers transcribing your speech from a handheld digital recorder via Dragon Dictate. The last treat is a series of dictation drills and a four-week three stage system for mastering dictation skills.
Table of contents listing:
- About the author knew who this book is for
- Introduction: why I wrote this book
- What is dictation software?
- Introduction to dictation software
- Introduction to dictation hardware
- Introduction to working with a human transcriptionist
- Overview of 26 drills in six skill levels of dictation
- Four-week calendar for dictation drills
- Pep talk: five things to tell yourself when you get discouraged
- Time to dictate: 15 general guidelines for working with speech to text software
- What to do if you want more practice
- What to do with the whole thing Is just too frustrating
- Connect with us on social media
- The HOW WRITE LIKE IT’S… guide series
For me, the meat of the book was in the dictation software and hardware chapters. Here, my suspicions about Nuance’s Dragon software’s superiority were confirmed. The hardware chapter covers microphones and handheld digital recorders as input devices. I was able to try input by voice into the MacBooks built-in microphone, a headset microphone, and the digital recorder. They all work surprisingly well. The author’s instructions were spot on.
I recommend the book for anyone contemplating dictation but hazy on the details. What it lacks in fancy print publication values it more than makes up for with content.
Have you tried dictation? What works for you?
Disclaimer: I received no compensation from Amazon or the book’s author for this review. I purchased this book and found it full of practical ideas. This post is meant to share my impressions, with the goal towards helping inform other curious writers.