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Dictate A Book In Two Months

Dictating Your Book

People who know me will be familiar with my love of dictation. It was driven by necessity after a marathon writing session and a bout of RSI in my wrists and hands. It was frightening to find my fingers sore and stiff, with wrists like two limp lettuce leaves when there was still so much to be done. I managed short term thanks to some time management apps and strapping my arms up in wrist supports, but I knew it would not suffice long term.

Dragon Software

I was first introduced to dictation by the fab Joanna Penn during one of her many writing podcasts. The Dragon software wasn’t cheap, and there was always a risk it wouldn’t work out but I was determined to give it a go. One of the biggest challenges was getting my brain used to storytelling in a different way. However, I did persevere and am happy to say it’s been totally worthwhile. So much so that I’ve now invested in the latest upgrade, which offers in the region of 98% accuracy for me.

Just Two Months

So how can you work with Dragon dictate and write a book in just two months? It may seem incredibly quick, but don’t forget I’m talking about a first draft, and that’s after all your plotting and prep has been done. An overall time of six months to a year is more realistic from start to finish to complete your book. We all write at different speeds, but there is no doubt that when you have mastered dictation you can complete your first draft in half the time. I particularly love Dragon for dialogue. It’s much more natural having a conversation between your characters when you are saying the words aloud. Thankfully my kids are used to hearing me ‘talk to myself’ in my writing room and I often pause to type in certain scenes not suitable for their ears!

Getting Started

Order the software, buy a decent microphone and read a good book on the subject. Nuance sell Dragon both for Mac and PC. I recommend reading The Writer’s Guide To Training Your Dragon. If you find you can’t get on with the software, then Dragon offer a 30 day money back guarantee (check on their site before you buy). I started off with a Blue Snowball microphone which was great, but recently bought the headset that goes with the software. It cost me around twenty pounds so I didn’t hold a lot of faith in it, but I’m really pleased with it so far. You don’t have to stop at dictating books either. Dragon can dictate directly into blog posts, online diaries, write emails and so much more.

Mindset

It takes time to get into the mindset and I plot my chapters by writing a couple of lines for each one. Then I start Dragon with a scene in my head. Usually, I won’t add a huge amount of scene setting or descriptions. That will come later on. For me, it’s about getting the characters together and allowing their dialogue to steer the story. It can be very liberating. Give it a go! It’s a great back up plan should your health begin to suffer due to repetitive use of your hands. It takes time to learn how to use the commands, but I’ll let you in on a secret: while I use the commands ‘comma,’ ‘full stop’ and ‘new line,’ I tend to type the quotation marks in later on. It’s about doing what works for you. I use Dragon to get out my first draft. Editing is far quicker and easier to type.

Special Offer

Fancy giving it a try? Then I’m pleased to be able to share this special offer of 20% off with you. I wish I had it when I first invested in the software. I get a small kickback should you use it, but please don’t take this blog post as an advertisement. I receive lots of requests to share writing related products but will only post about those I love and trust. For me, Dragon Dictate has been game changing, taking the pressure off when I have a looming deadline for my first draft. I’ve been known to dictate as many as 25K words in a weekend. If you don’t believe me, check out this great Facebook group and see for yourself.

 

Has dictation worked for you or have you crashed and burned? I love hearing from my readers, feel free to share and comment below! 

Image courtesy of Flickr creative commons.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. I tried Dragon software for Mac a few years ago, on a trial basis, but couldn’t get it to work properly. Maybe I should try again though. I think dictating a book could be a brilliant thing to do … and save my poor aching fingers, LOL. Jx

    1. Hi Jane
      I recently upgraded to the latest version and found it so much better. A good microphone can also make all the difference, as well as spending time uploading your own text and making corrections through Dragon when it gets a word wrong. Each correction you make through Dragon is saved in its memory and it can often be the best way to train it. Joanna Penn has some great podcasts on the subject at her site. Good luck!

      1. Hi Caroline,
        Dragon was recommended to me around five years ago by an NHS ergonomics specialist. I’ve been using it ever since. I don’t think most writers realize how poor their posture is when typing, and of course how bad for you constant typing is. As you know from experience PC overuse causes all kinds of RSI and fine motor problems with the associated muscles. Laptops in particular cause more strain as the keyboard reach is further, and the screen causes a hunched downward posture (A precursor to neck problems/pain). I’d reached a point of virtual disability with the scalene muscle in my neck locking rigid all the time.

        Great article. I just wish more writers would pay attention to info like this. My first book “THE LOST HOARD” coming out soon – was completed entirely with DRAGON and scrivener.
        Regards J.F.Burgess.

  2. Cool, thanks!! I’ve now bought the Dragon software and already have a Rode (or however you spell it) mic, for my own podcasts, so we’re all set … It’s a different mental approach though, I agree, from attempts in the past. Feels odd, dictating instead of typing. But if Barbara Cartland could do it … 🙂

  3. Oh lovely dictation, the writer’s secret! I use Dragon too, usually in conjunction with Audacity. I record my story in sections in Audacity, a free recording package, and then Dragon, the lovely tool it is, transcribes these for me into a doc. There’s usually editing needed but there’d be anyway.

    I started using both tools just to fit in writing bouts in tight corners of time when I was still working shifts. I use my laptop to write and record, etc and am thinking of getting a smart phone so I can use the Audacity app as I walk 3 miles to work and back these days and could use the time.

    Your amazing accomplishment of writing 25k words in a weekend is totally believable. With Dragon and Audacity, I’ve written about 27k words in 2 days – in a forced writing spree to finish my 6 novels in 6 months writing challenge I set myself this January. It worked with 10 days to spare. It helps to have at least a basic outline and idea where you’re headed too, don’t you think?

    Writing in big chunks this way fires up your creativity and ideas can come charging out. I didn’t see one part of my ending coming. The twist popped out as I wrote.

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