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Writing Diaries – A Dragon Gave Me Wings

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As some of you may already know, I’ve been suffering from a crippling wrist injury for the last year. It’s totally debilitating and incredibly painful, limiting my functionality to basic survival. Aside from the obvious tragedy of it all, you can imagine my horror when I realized I’d no longer be able to type. No writing. No blogging. No emails. Heck, even as status update on Facebook knocked me out of commission for an hour. It was miserable because I saw all of my dreams and ambitions fall between my fragile hands like sand pouring out a broken hourglass.

But, as you may have noticed, I’ve written this post.

At one of David Farland’s amazing writing seminars, he clued me in to a program called Dragon Dictate (or Dragon Speak Naturally for all of you Microsoft users). It’s a speech to text program that I’ve been using for the last several months and it has given me back my wings!

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Aside from the whole “I’m crippled and couldn’t write without it” thing, there are actually some great advantages to using this program if you’re a writer. For example:

  •  Dialogues Scenes – they flow more naturally and it sort of allows you to act it out as you write it. I can definitely say mine are stronger.
  •  Simplification – because you’re not typing, your mind is even more free to create (provided you learn to ignore punctuation for later edits).
  • Speed – I know some people can type as fast as the spoken word, but not all of us are that proficient. With this program, filling up the page of story is a breeze and the only taxation is mental.

As with any new technology, there are a few drawbacks:

  • Learning Curve – I will admit it’s quite steep for this program; I swear the damn thing has a mind of its own.
  • Patience, Grasshopper – the system is programmed to learn your specific patterns of speech and continually improve its accuracy. Frankly, it’s doing a lot at once and sometimes needs a minute to process all the input. I have had to learn to either do other things when it does this, or sit there and pull my hair out.
  • Enunciation – saying a word incorrectly more than once (or for that matter, screaming it into the headset) will not force the system to recognize it. It can be as bad as an iPhone AutoCorrect.

There are goods and bads with everything. For me, Dragon Dictate has been a life saver and ultimate enabler. If you are able to get past the initial frustrating learning phase, it truly becomes one of the best writing tools out there.

I should have known my saving grace would be a Dragon!

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