Trying Something New – Dictation

Old Style Microphone

Old Style Microphone, courtesy of

I’m trying something new, which many other authors are talking about, which is dictating!  Not the entire story, like Wanderer Book 5, or any complex story at the moment — I enjoy using the keyboard too much.

I’m dictating this right now!  Various additional comments and mutterings which were on the dictation have been left in in blue, to show I’m far from perfect at this so far…

The reason I’m interested in dictating is for times like this – when I’m walking the dogs – or times when I’m wandering around without being able to write, or lying in bed at night and I don’t want to have a light or digital device on.  At those times I often have lots of ideas in my head, things I think through and think I’ll write down later but time is always short and things like Wanderer Book Five take priority.

If I can get this working, and the last attempt to dictate while walking the dogs was pretty disastrous, then it could work out really well – not only for creating more stories and blogs, but also for getting all those ideas out of my head and saved somewhere safe.

I’m using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking application, version 13 I think.  Funnily enough, I think I tested one of the very very early versions at my first proper job in the city of London some 20 odd years ago and back then it was pretty dire, I have to say.

Voice recognition technology has come on a long way since then, in fact when dictating at home a few minutes ago I was able to get pretty much 100% accuracy using my smart phone (android of course), to link over the Wi-Fi to the computer running the software. It was very very impressive.

Slight pause in the dictation as I guide our elderly dog away from the difficult areas he seems intent on walking through!

So, what will I be writing using this magnificent new technique?  Well, blog posts are a definite possibility, as are short stories. In fact I dictated a short story called “I used to be a god emperor you know”, (I keep forgetting the punctuation – will have to add that later!) and the story was actually quite good.  Listening back to it I can understand it (mostly) and can fill the gaps the dictation software absolutely mangled.

To be fair I think that’s mostly because I was talking quietly despite being in a field on my own with two dogs, (lost the microphone – that doesn’t help) and I’m not really used to dictating.  I was definitely speaking too quickly and forgetting that my Essex accent (which is an area just to the north-east of London for those of you outside the UK) tends to run words into each other so badly that even my fiancee can’t understand what I’m saying at times.

And I’ve lost my train of thought… 

It’s quite clear that dictating is a skill that will take training to work and is quite a difficult skill.  Especially dictating outside with background noises such as the wind and the birds.

Helping the elderly dog again.  He likes these walks – his tail’s wagging and he’s happy despite being rained on, but then lab-retrievers don’t really notice when it rains.  This one spent half his life swimming.

Still recording so that’s me waffling on, you’ll notice that happens a lot when I’m doing video updates too because either I don’t like my voice at all, or my writer brain never shuts down but does wander off in some very strange ways.

That was a long, and somewhat rambling, post so it’s goodbye from very warm, very muggy and pretty wet Suffolk.

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