Sunday, November 16, 2008

Speak like you write

One piece of advice often repeated to new writers is to "write like you speak." I don't know how valuable that advice actually is, but I'm in the process of learning to do the opposite, to "speak like I write."

Because I've been having trouble writing post-surgery, I've been exploring ways to change how I work. One idea I kicked around is the use of speech recognition software so that I could dictate rather than type. I sought opinions from other writers and found that, as a group, they had a vast array of experiences. The positive experiences and the negative experiences seemed to cancel each other out.

Ultimately, I purchased MacSpeech Dictate. I thought I had throughly checked the specs, but I hadn't; it won't run on my older Macintosh G5.

Another week of deep thought led to the purchase of a MacBook, one of the other ideas I had about changing the way I work. I thought not being tied to my office might inspire me.

The laptop was functional straight out of the box, I installed Microsoft Office and MacSpeech Dictate without any hitches, and I was soon able to dictate directly into a Word document.

Although I've only dictated a few things, I have learned the following about myself: 1) I don't enunciate my words as clearly as I'd thought, and 2) When I read back what I've dictated, it doesn't "sound" like material I've typed.

I've spent time "teaching" the program to understand me, and it does a reasonably good job of understanding what I'm saying; it's certainly no worse than my typing.

But will it ultimately make me more productive? Will not being tied to my office and not being tied to a keyboard make a difference? Will I regain my productivity by changing how I write?


Graham Powell said...

Or will you be the crazy guy talking to himself in Starbucks?

JLG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The ending has me hooked. ;-)

Please keep us updated on your results...


Kevin R. Tipple said...

Looking forward to hearing a lot more about this. I suspect this research could lead to some non fiction pieces.