KiMBALL PETERSON

AUTHOR - LIFE HACKER- CREATIVITY EXPLORER

How Fast Can You Type?

You’re a writer and you naturally want to tear through that first draft so that you can get to the fun stuff; editing your book into something publishable.

An average typist can pound out about 40 words per minute. A professional career typist speeds through 100 words a minute or more.

With Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the best known speech recognition software, you can dictate at 150 words per minute or more with practice.

If you’re an average typist it will take you 33 hours of straight typing to knock out an 80,000 word first draft. With Dragon you’ll spend about nine hours.

The best part? You’re not wrecking your hands and wrists. I have Parkinson’s and my right hand often doesn’t cooperate when typing, so speech recognition is a godsend for me.

I’ve used Dragon for several years and the software has finally become accurate enough where I prefer using it for most applications. Yes, it makes mistakes, but the extra speed makes up for having to make occasional corrections. And the more you use it, the better the accuracy becomes.

Transcribing notes is a breeze. You don’t even have to look at the screen while you’re reading off your handwritten notes or transcribing a quote from your favorite book. I also like to use scene summary cards and then look away from the screen and riff on the scene while looking at the cards or even closing my eyes and envisioning the action and dialogue. Your inner critic can’t talk back to you when you’re improvising at normal speech rates. Bypassing that nasty demon whispering in your ear is a huge benefit for a first draft. Obviously it helps if you’ve done the complete plotting and outline for your novel before you start. If you’re the type that likes to make up your story as you go along, you won’t get as much benefit but at least your hands are not taking a beating.

It can’t do your thinking for you but it can vastly increase your productivity.

Some authors put out several books a year using voice recognition. Not sure about their quality but they have a handle on quantity that they couldn't achieve with regular typing.

I don’t recommend it for editing where you are doing a lot of cutting and pasting, but for notes and first drafts you can’t beat it.

I use Nuance Dragon Professional Individual version 15 and an Andrea voice recognition USB headset with noise canceling microphone. And when I’m away from my computer, I use an Olympus portable recorder. When I get back, I simply plug the built-in USB into my computer and have Dragon transcribe my voice notes. Anytime I go anywhere and the Muse makes an unexpected appearance I simply make a voice note. My good ideas don’t get away.

There are a number of books on Amazon that cover the best practices of using voice recognition software. Many are available on Kindle Unlimited at no cost.

The only thing I don’t like about the current version of Dragon is that the Windows version isn’t integrated with Evernote. When you dictate into Evernote, the Dragon app transcribes your note into a separate text box. It’s easy enough to transfer but I’m not sure why they haven’t fixed that.

It has the same problem with Scrivener.

Dragon works flawlessly with Microsoft Word, which is probably the most used application by writers. It also works with Squarespace if that's your website or blog platform

It’s definitely worth the investment. I would recommend it to any novelist or anyone who does a lot of typing. Save your hands and let your brain do the work.