As someone who blogs for a living, I have relied on dictation software for the last seven years. Dictation software allows me to knock out thousands of words in a much shorter amount of time than otherwise possible.
With the increased demand for publishing more novels quicker than ever, writers need to consider using dictation software as a vehicle that increases output many times over.
In this post, I’m going to help you determine if dictation software is right for you by cover the following:
- Why you should consider using dictation software as a fiction author
- How to use dictation software
- Advantages and disadvantages to the using the software
- What technical gear you may need in addition to the software
- How using dictation software will benefit you as a fiction writer
- The dictation software I use and why I recommend it for authors
Why You Should Consider Using Dictation
It’s no secret the more books you have published, typically the more income you earn. In fact, there is a Facebook Group named 20Booksto50K that is in large part geared to help writers self-publish more books and earn more income. Where as publishing one book per year used to be an aggressive and successful approach, many authors in that group are hell bent at publishing five, ten, fifteen books a year!
Sounds crazy, but its not the authors that are creating this new trend. It’s their readership. Readers are devouring their favorite authors books quicker than ever before. If as an author you publish only one book per year, your readership will have found another favorite author to take your place inside of 30 days of your last publication.
Okay, that’s not fact, but its closer to the truth than it is a total B.S. line. That’s not fact either, but you get what I’m saying.
Anyway, a lot of things are happening in the world today. Demand for more books is increasing and technology is allowing for an increase in writing speed to satisfy the demand. But, authors are just now realizing the demand. They know they need to write faster to maintain their catalog and keep their fans happy, but it’s the “how” that is causing a delay. Dictation software is the “how” and not only that it’s the affordable and easy to use.
How Do Authors Use Dictation Software
Much like any other programs these days, dictation software is something that’s most powerful when you expand on the programs possibilities. Yes, it’s dictation software, and dictating a rough draft in half the time is one advantage, but it can do much more. Here are a few examples when I’ve used dictation software outside of dictating my novel.
- This blog post
- Scrivener notes
- Writing long emails
- Note taking on mobile devices
- Transcribing book research
Advantages and Disadvantages to Dictation Software
Just like any software there are specific advantages and disadvantages. I’ve created a couple of lists and I’ll do my best to keep both as relevant to writers as I can, however some overlap with general health which isn’t a bad thing in this writers opinion.
Advantages of using dictation
- It saves mucho time
- You can multitask. I’ve washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen while I dictated an entire chapter. I’ve also dictated more than half of a comprehensive outline during a long trip where I drove to Florida from Minnesota.
- Allows you to capture ideas as they burst out of you. There is no need to try and remember ideas while you’re having an epic afternoon with new content. Just dictate and you’re done in record time.
- It’s actually a healthier way to write because you’re mobile. That is is you have a bluetooth headset, you can walk around your home office or a park and dictate your novel.
- Dialogue can be easier to write when you’re actually speaking and dictating. I’ve personally struggled with dialogue and have found this to be very useful.
- If you’re the type of writer who needs to stare at the keyboard and peck out a letter here and there, you’ll undoubtedly find dictation easier than typing.
Disadvantages of dictation
- There is a learning curve to using dictation software successfully. Each program has their own commands and you’ll need to take time to learn them.
- You may feel awkward. It’s just the truth. I felt kind of dumb in my home office in the beginning, but you get used to it.
- Editing isn’t easy. In fact, I do not recommend trying to edit with dictation software. Even though the best software has a near 100% accuracy rate, editing is just too laborious and time consuming. Just bust out your pen or keyboard and edit the old fashioned way.
- It can be difficult to spot spelling errors. Software like Dragon is evolved enough to understand the context to which you’re writing, but every so often there are mistakes and unless you’re staring at the screen, you’ll need to pay closer attention to your spelling when editing.
- Background noise can be a problem. If you’re using a cheap microphone or the microphone that is integrated into your Mac or PC, you really can’t dictate in a noisy area.
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Additional Tools You’ll Need or Want Besides Dictation Software
In trying not to state the obvious here, but still remaining helpful, you’ll need a few basic necessities besides the dictation software of your choice.
Of course, you need a Mac, PC, or Smartphone, (if your dictation software has an app. Mine does :)) and you would be best served with a quite place to dictate. Those are the obvious needs.
What you’re going to want almost immediately after using dictation software for a short time is a quality BLUETOOTH microphone. Notice the emphasis on BLUETOOTH. Not just any microphone will suffice when using dictation software. You’ll want a bluetooth microphone similar to the microphone that I trust and use below so you can have the ability to leave your Mac, PC, or Smartphone to walk around or multi task as you dictate.
Heck, sometimes I just kick back on my ultra comfy office chair, close my eyes and get to it. I couldn’t do that without a bluetooth microphone. A corded microphone means you’re limited to the length of the cord to your computer and that just plain sucks.
The Logitech H800 Bluetooth Wireless Headset with Mic is my favorite microphone for dictating and believe me when I say I have several different microphones.
I’ve owned this headset for three years. I use it nearly everyday for at the very least a couple of hours. Now, because there are tons of microphones to choose from, I’m not going to gush about the Logitech. Instead, I’m going to tell you a few things I’ve learned to love about this type of headset, so that you have an idea of what you might be looking for if the H800 doesn’t turn your crank.
Comfort – You’re going to be wearing your headset for hours. It should go without saying that you want something comfortable. My headset has a one inch form insert that goes around my head and the form inserts around my ears are thick which makes them very comfortable.
Light weight – Seriously, you do not want a big bulky headset. Again, you’re going to be wearing these for hours. Your goal is to not realize you have them on after a while so you can focus on your writing. Not some thick headset weighting your head from side to side.
Strong Battery Life – I charge my Logitech once a week. That’s it. Even after a few years of usage, I still don’t have to charge it very often. I honestly don’t know how long the battery lasts. I just know I throw it on a charger sometime during the weekend and when Monday rolls around I unplug it and use it for the week. Long and short of it is, you want a very long battery life. Make it a priority after comfort.
Affordable – Think about how and where you’re going to use your microphone. I use mine at home, in the car, tiny private library rooms, and out of the way coffee shop room where no one dares to enter.(it’s kind of a scary old house converted into a coffee shop, but I love it.) The point is, your headset is going to get banged around in a bag, fall off your desk at home, your kids are going to take it and act like rockstars or pilots. Things are going to happen and they might get broke. By, the way, all of those things have happened to my H800 and it still works great. Best $80 I ever spent.
A Change in Your Writing Process
I know this post is about dictation software, but its just as much about the process of writing. Therefore, I would be leaving important information out if I didn’t discuss how using dictation software changes the way your write.
No more are the days slumped over your Mac or PC banging out page after page.
Instead, you’re sitting back maybe with your eyes closed dictating how you see a particular scene play out in your head. It’s like having your brainstorming and writing time all rolled into one. Productivity at its best!Seriously though, your process will change.
You’ll have a period of time where you’ll need to get used to saying, “comma” and “period” and “new line”.
These are all common punctuations and actions you’ll need to understand when using dictation software. Trust me, you’ll feel stupid if you’re family hears you, but it will save you hours or dollars in the form of editing if you include punctuation in your dictation.
If you’re used to editing as you write, you might have a more difficult time adjusting to dictating.
I used to be that writer. I would noticed something I wrote a few lines above and correct the mistake right away. With dictation software, you can still do that, but you usually want to click off the microphone before you do to prevent and unnecessary words from entering that part of text.
The ONE Major Benefit of Using Dictation Software
Speed. If you can type 1500 words per hour, you’ll knock out 3000 – 4000 words dictating and sometimes more.
Speed. If you have a hard or self imposed deadline and you’re behind, dictating will help you catch up.
Speed. If you’re at a point in your story where you can’t type fast enough to stay in touch with your minds ideas, dictating software is almost immediate to text, and if it isn’t it will catch up with large blocks and keep you on pace with that wicket mind of yours.
Speed. If you’re pumping out a book every year, you’ll at least double that with diction software.
Speed. If you’re pumping out 6 books a year, you can pump out 10 for sure with the help of dictation software. No joke.
The Industry Standard for Speech Recognition (Dictation) Software
If you’re familiar with Fiction Formula, you know I don’t recommend ANYTHING I haven’t actually used on a daily basis or tested on my own work for a sufficient amount of time. I’ve spent close to $15,000 on tools and software over the last few years. Thousands more on online courses for authors.
I could easily create an entire website of tools, software, and courses for authors and probably do fairly well in affiliate commission, but the truth is, much of what I’ve purchased or used in the last few years is total shit. Sooo, I only recommend the tools, software, hardware, and online courses I actually find useful and use myself. Dictation software is no different.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
As you’ve noticed above, I recommend Nuance Dragon Dictation Software for writers. Partly, because I’ve used it for seven years and I know it’s the perfect fit for writers, but also because the people at Nuance didn’t just create a product and give up it. Nuance has been perfecting Dragon dictation software for almost twenty years at the time I write this. That’s a long time to be focused on one product and believe me it shows.
- Dragon is up to 99% accurate.
- It learns as you use it.
- It’s available for PC, Mac, or they have an app for smartphones (IOS and Android)
- It’s available in 7 different languages (US English, UK English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese aka “Dragon Speech 11” in Japan)
- There are several different versions of Dragon, but most writers will only require the Home version. Unless you’re going to use it for a business, I don’t see any reason to purchase the professional version.
Check out Dragon for yourself and see if it does everything you need and hope dictation software would do to make you a better, more productive, and complete writer.
Affiliate Disclaimer: I’ve included several links in this post and on my Resources page. All of the links are affiliate links, which means I will get a small commission if you purchase through my link. It’s through that income that allows me to grow the Fiction Formula name in an effort to help you become a better and more informed thriller writer.