Nowadays, to make money, I turn my writing over to my pal, the Dragon.
No, I don’t own a fire-breathing beast but I do possess a computer speech recognition (SR) program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking and, today, its importance has ratcheted up in my life because of my injured writing limb.
In the meantime, the five magazines that depend on me for a piece every month still need those articles. Dragon allows me to provide them.
Dragon provides many writing advantages.
1. Easy First, or Rough Drafts. Just speak into the microphone at a normal speed and the words of your draft appear on the screen.
2. Increased Production. Speaking writing is faster than keyboard writing, so with Dragon you get more writing done in a shorter period of time.
3. Dragon Claims 99% Accuracy. Once you’ve trained your voice in Dragon, a half-hour process, a few errors will continue to appear. But as you continue using the program, and making changes, Dragon updates recognition of your voice, and eliminates errors.
4. Simple and Fast Corrections. When you ask Dragon to add or change words or punctuation, the cursor jumps quickly to the correct spot, and obeys your command: insert (before or after a word or phrase), and adds the words that you speak. Choose (a word or phrase) and it will instantaneously highlight those words. Speak and the changes pop up on the screen immediately. Other commands include: delete, bold that, question mark, cap(italize) that–and more.
But there are also disadvantages:
1. A Change in Voice. My “writing voice” changes when I speak into Dragon versus when I write using a keyboard. That requires me to rewrite/edit more than I need to when using the keyboard to write.
2. Wordiness. My wordiness increases because it’s so easy to speak. Because I enjoy rewriting, that’s not a problem. As Hemingway supposedly said, there is no such thing as writing, but only rewriting.
3. Overconfidence. Because of Dragon’s simplicity and speed, it’s easy to believe it has transcribed your every word perfectly. Don’t believe it. Accuracy of 99% of 2,000 words still means twenty errors, large or small. Even after fifteen years, Dragon sometimes “hears” and installs “a” instead of “the,” or “and” for “an,” or “then” for “than,” and vice versa for all of them. Finding those errors requires a jaundiced eye.
On the other hand, some errors are easy to spot, and hilarious: for example, Dragon wrote “…carrying a shed door on her head,” when I said “wearing a shador…” Or, “She pressed a nickel into my poem.” (Palm!)
Dragon–and other voice recognition programs–provide other options, but the main one is that they allow you to write faster, and make the process easier.
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Bill Vossler’s 35-year writing career has produced 5,095 articles, 3,482 of which have been published in 236 magazines, and 16 books. When asked when he’d going to retire, he said, “How do you retire from your own brain?”