I’m a huge fan of dictation and use it for all my writing, not only my first draft but even as I edit. Using dictation, I can write about two thousand words an hour—compared to about five hundred words typing. My dictated words come out in pretty good shape, about 90 percent of the way there.
Although some people claim five thousand words an hour from dictation, I’m not one of them. Yes, I talk fast and could dictate ten to fifteen thousand words per hour, but those words would require so much editing to make them worthless. Therefore, I slow down, think about what I want to say, and say it. I’m pleased with the results and the speed.
I pursued dictation for two reasons. One was to write faster. The other was to protect my aching wrists. Despite doing the recommended exercises and taking frequent breaks, my wrist often throbbed after writing several hours a day, day after day.
Thanks to dictation, my wrists don’t hurt anymore, but now I need to protect my voice. Drink lots of water when dictating. Avoid carbonated beverages, milk, and coffee.
By the way, I’m a poor candidate for dictation. First, you should dictate in complete sentences, but I don’t. Most of the time, I don’t know how a sentence will end when I frame the beginning in my mind. Therefore, my dictation gushes out as a disjointed hodgepodge of sentence fragments and phrases.
Second, I don’t enunciate well. And I often pronounce the same word in two ways. This trait makes it hard for the dictation software and requires a critical eye to catch errors, which are sometimes comical, albeit infuriating. As a result, my dictated work needs a bit more editing. Though my overall production speed using dictation isn’t four times faster, it’s certainly more than three times as much.
For full disclosure, using dictation has had unexpected side effects. It has resulted in a slowdown of my typing speed and has been a further hit to my spelling challenges. Still, dictation stands as a more-than-equitable trade-off, more than tripling my production speed, while avoiding carpal tunnel surgery.
Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.