Is Dictating Your Novel Right For You?

Most of us have been taught to type from an early age. In the days of technology, everyone has a keyboard and a social media account. Many don’t think about dictating their novel as a way to be more productive in their writing.

While typing is second nature to most of us, talking can be a great way to get our next words on paper.

As authors we are storytellers.

Authors are natural storytellers.

As we tell our stories, why not say them out loud?

This can help in many ways. As you are speaking into your microphone, you can be thinking about ways to work your next sentence.

As you hear yourself talk into the microphone, you can sometimes feel when a sentence does not fit into the structure you want for your story.

Here are some pros and cons as to why you should dictate your next novel.

Pros of Dictation

1. Dictation gives you increased efficiency

The average adult can type approximately 75 to 100 words per minute. The average adult can speak 100 to 120 words per minute.

Because the average writer can speak so much faster than type, this would give you more words per minute on average for any new work you attempt.

If you have been writing for a while, you know that your word count per day is an important metric that you follow to keep on track with your goals.

To meet your deadlines, you often set a goal of 1000 to 2000 words per day to finish on time.

What if you could get 2000 to 4000 words per day in the same amount of time much easier?

Dictation would allow you to get higher word counts and therefore finish your project faster.

If your software does it’s job, there is also the matter of editing.

I found that editing became easier because while I might misspell words when I am typing too fast, the dictation software doesn’t.

Sure, it will have the wrong word sometimes, but the word will be spelled correctly.  That means less time looking up the correct spelling.

2. No more procrastination

Some people sit and stare at the keyboard for long periods trying to think of what to type and how to type it.

If you are only telling yourself a story in your head or into the microphone, you have no reason not to get started.

You can just pick up your microphone and start talking.

A good microphone is a must-have device in order to get the most from your dictation.

If you feel dread every time you sit in front of the keyboard, then this would get rid of that terrible writer’s block.

Since most people can talk much faster than they can type, this makes the whole process easier and therefore people are less likely to delay getting started.

3. Stops Editing As You Go

While some writers often make the mistake of editing as they go, it slows them down tremendously.

If you are concentrating on your dictation, rather than your typing skills, you will complete a project before looking down to edit yourself.

That doesn’t mean you won’t have to edit, but with dictation, you are more likely to wait until you finish the current pages before starting the editing process.

4. You can walk and talk

For various reasons, some people have difficulty sitting for long stretches of time at their computer typing. For some this may be due to disability, for others it might be because of boredom.

Someone with carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve damage, might not be able to type for long periods, and dictating a novel can be useful.

When you can move away from your desk and still get your work done, it brings a whole new sense of freedom to your writing.

Sometimes people can think better when they move around rather than staring at a blank screen and watching words appear in front of them as they type.

Walking around as you dictate can sometimes get the creative juices flowing because it’s just like telling a story. You can even pretend you are talking to someone, and this, in turn, will make your writing more relatable.

5. Make you a better storyteller

All authors are storytellers, but the only thing that varies is the type of story they tell.

It sometimes seems intimidating to stare at a white screen waiting for words to come to mind, and this will cause a delay in writing.

What if you could just tell the story?  Say the words out loud and they magically become a page, that then turns into a book.

Dictation can unlock your storytelling abilities in ways you hadn’t dreamed possible before.

Pretend that you are telling your children a bedtime story, and then off you go dictating your next novel.

It can be fun to do dialogue because you can put yourself into the roles of your characters.  Your software isn’t going to know if you use funny voices if you say the words clearly.

While it is easy to see that this could be an efficient way for you to write your novel, there are also a few cons that must be mentioned.

Cons of Dictation

1. Dictation has a big learning curve

Anytime you learn a new technology, there is a new learning curve that must be met.

Dictating your novel is no different than any other technology that you had to learn in the past.

The hardest part o the learning curve for dictation is the fact that you must now learn to speak your punctuation until it becomes second nature as well.

Whereas before you did it in your head, you must now think it out loud.

In the beginning, this will slow you down until you learn to speak the punctuation out loud.

Because typing has become so ingrained in many people’s daily lives, we don’t think about the punctuation we use because it seems to come automatically as we type out the sentences.

But you learned to use punctuation without fault when you first learn to type, and dictation is no different. Dictation is just done in a different manner.

2. Pricing

There are free apps online that can help you with dictation.

However, you get what you pay for.

Make sure you get good quality equipment even if you have to pay a little more.

I have found that to increase your accuracy; you need a good microphone and a good app to get started.

Dragon Home v15 is the program I use to get the most accurate work done.  This application can be a little pricey but is well worth the money. For more information on Dragon, check out this post.

If you plan to make writing a career, you can think of it as an investment i future returns.

If you are just starting out, you can use one of the free apps such as Google Docs voice typing, Microsoft voice recognition, or Apple dictation.

Whichever application you use is only as good as your microphone, which is our next con.

3. Microphone

Your microphone will be your most important part of the dictation process.

You can use the built-in microphone on your computer, or you can buy a much better-quality microphone.

Built-in microphones and cheap microphones will decrease your accuracy rates, and you will spend more time editing than you do writing.

If you can afford to buy a quality microphone, you will be much happier with any dictation application you decide to use.

4. Editing

Editing will be necessary no matter which dictation program you use.

As of this writing, no dictation software available has 100% accuracy but some of them get as much as 95% to 99% accuracy.

You will have to read your work carefully in the editing process no matter which application you use.

However, it must be noted that you would have to do editing regardless of whether you use typing or dictation.

I have dictated this entire post to get better acquainted with the software and my microphone.

It takes some getting used to in order to get the words flowing more easily because, in the beginning, you will want to watch the words appear magically on paper.

I found that as I got further into the post, the speaking became easier, and I stopped looking down so much to see what was appearing on the paper.

All in all, I found dictation a very beneficial alternative to typing. I found a combination of typing and dictation, depending on the setting, will greatly enhance my productivity and get my work done much faster.

If you’re interested in dictation as your primary source of writing, then I highly suggest you check out this post for helpful tips and suggestions for your equipment.