Say What?

Last year, a writer I follow on social media (Sean McCabe) livestreamed himself attempting to write a 100,000-word book in ONE day. When the email popped up in my inbox with the subject line: “How I’m preparing to write 100,000 words in a day,” my first thought was, “Yeah, right.” My second thought was, “How is that even possible?” although I suspected I knew how he planned to accomplish this amazing feat.

I opened the email to learn more, and I was right—he planned to dictate his novel, and planned for it to take him about 12-16 hours. Damn. My voice box aches just thinking about talking for that long.

While he ultimately wasn’t able to write that many words in one day (he actually got about 55k), he wrote way more via dictation than he could possible write via keyboard.

This got me thinking.

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of dictating a book for some time now. When I first heard about it, I had no idea how to even go about dictating. I had the old-fashioned idea of speaking into a recorder, then sending it to some service to transcribe it.

Oh, no, no, no. That is SO last decade. Enter Dragon software (There are other options, but this is the one I’m familiar with). You speak into a recorder, open up the software, and download the audio file into Dragon. And voila! It magically transcribes your spoken words into written words onto the screen. You can also speak into a microphone on your computer, and talk instead of type right onto the screen.

Sounds great. But does it work?

I have no idea if it’ll work for me. In fact, I have no idea the exact logistics, because I haven’t actually tried it for myself. But I know others who have.

One friend dictates while hiking, and writes the majority of her books that way. Another friend writes all her business emails via dictation while riding her stationary bike. And yet another friend writes all her blog posts via dictation. I’ve read books by Chris Fox (5000 Words a Day: Writer Faster, Write Smarter) and Monica Leonelle (Dictate Your Book: How to Write Your Book Faster, Better and Smarter) and both say it totally changed their writing careers. They went from writing maybe 1k words an hour to 5k an hour or even more. Or…like crazy Sean McCabe mentioned earlier…50k in a day. (Ouch. I need a lozenge…)

I’ve heard there’s a big learning curve. You have to record yourself reading several pages of script into the software so it can learn the nuances of your voice. You have to learn how to speak the punctuation (Period. Comma. New Paragraph, etc.) And it supposedly takes a while to learn how to “write out loud.”

As luck or coincidence would have it, one of my clients recently gave me an box of Dragon Software that he’d never used. Considering I’d never even mentioned dictation to him, I took this as a sign that I should try it. I bought a tiny recorder and a microphone headset, so I’m ready to go.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted on my results.

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