Use Dragon to make your writing richer

Dragon encourages me to use words I can't spell

As a graduate of the Dick, Jane & Sally school of reading I never learned phonics. ​I can't sound out words. Spelling has always been a mystery to me. My reading vocabulary is much larger than my spelling vocabulary. Spell check helps but only if you can come close to the proper spelling. When you misspell so badly the spell checker can't make the correct suggestion you have a problem. 

I limit my word choices​

Constant spell checking  keeps me from getting into the flow of my writing. It slows my already pathetic typing speed. Over time I have learned to limit my vocabulary to words I can usually spell correctly.  ​English is a rich language. There is always a best word to use in a situation. By limiting my word choice my writing  has less depth. It may not convey the emotion I intend.  

I am a slow (25 WPM) typist​

I have to watch my fingers. Add that to the constant spell checking and my hourly word output is pathetic. ​I saw the articles about using speech recognition to speed the creation of text and thought it sounded great. So, I spent the $300 and  gave it a try. 

It didn't work​

I couldn't get enough volume through the mic. The word recognition was dreadful. I couldn't return it so I was out what was for me, A LOT OF MONEY.​ 

I tried again​

I had the same problems. I bought a Blue Yeti mic. I still couldn't get the volume I needed. I bought a new sound card for my computer. No joy there either. More time and money down the drain.

I found Scott Baker​

He wrote Training Your Dragon and is an active participant on the Facebook, Dragon Riders group. ​It turned out my previous problems were all settings and configuration problems. I set up my system the way he suggested and the accuracy is astonishing. I am just getting started but I can already double my output. I have serious hopes for additional improvements.

I immediately noticed

that words I don't normally use were being transcribed accurately. That encouraged me to expand my word choices as I dictate. I was rewarded with richer text. It will take me a while to banish my old habit of restricting the words I use but my writing will be improved.

Not mentioned elsewhere​

I have not seen this mentioned other places. Lots of people are forced to use Dragon by physical limitations. Repetitive motion injuries are common among writers. Back problems abound. Weight gains from sitting to much cause a variety of problems. These issues my keep people early their living. It can a serious business. Hopefully, this additional insight about the benefits of Dragon may encourage  you to go for a ride 🙂

Below is my affiliate link to the software version Scott Baker recommends. I will get a small cash thank you if you buy using that link. If that offends you, just go directly to Amazon and look it up for yourself. 

Mindmap of Writerville

Writerville is, in part, a test of Dragon Naturally Speaking. My typing skills are bad and getting worse as I age. I must find a faster way to enter my content if I am to have success online. Dragon seemed like a possible answer.

I am a recent convert to mindmapping. I didn’t see any use for it for years, but for some reason it made sense now. Below is the map I developed today showing my plans for building out Writerville.com. It is early days and no doubt many things will change but this seems like a good start.

My plan is to dictate into Dragon using the mind map as an outline. I will use the Dragon text output as the script for making a Camtasia video that I can upload to Youtube. The text becomes SEO material I can place in the video description. My hope is that this entire process goes much faster than if I had to type everything by hand. Time will tell.

Update. To bad all that text is to small to read unless you have something like an iPad where you can expand the screen as much as necessary. I will have to figure out a better way to present this.

Writerville.com mind map

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a software tool for converting speech into text. 

It has been around for more than ten years but never really become mainstream. It promises to speed up content creation ​a lot. So why hasn't it taken the content creation world by Storm? In the early years I think the technology really lagged behind the marketing hype. The computers were not a powerful and the software was less mature. Lots of people tried it and found it did not work for them. 

Dragon has gotten stronger over time​

Computers are more powerful and the software has been improved. I recently found The Writer's Guide to Training Your Dragon and am motivated to give it a try. ​The author has been using Dragon for years and points out the improvements. He and many others got past the startup issues because of health issues that left them no choice. 

Even minimal research quickly shows that learning to use Dragon is hard. The actual technique is not that impossibly difficult, but effective application requires  significant shifts in how you approach your writing. Speaking is not the same as typing and it takes a while to make the shift. 

Listen to this podcast

Scott Baker, the author of the book linked to above, did a really good Podcast in January of 2017. He made two points that I found especially helpful. He recorded himself reading some text exactly as he would for recording it for Dragon. That means speaking that includes punctuation. I found it very useful to actually hear how that sounds, not just reading about it.

Want to save $225?​

Scott also pointed out that an older version of the software is just as good as the most recent release. That is the difference between $73 and $300. In my case that is the difference between affordable and completely out of reach.

Don't expect one pass perfection​

To read the Dragon marketing material  you would think a few minutes of training would have you dictating with 99% accuracy. That isn't going to happen. It's going to take more time than you expected. It is going to require more mental flexibility than you anticipated. It may never be a good fit with your workflow or how your mind works.

The people who stick with it all seem to love​ it. There are Facebook Groups of users who will provide advice and encouragement. So I think it is time for me to give it a try.

​The right use case

I think people get discouraged when they are hoping for near perfection and it doesn't happen for them. It is really discouraging to commit hours ​and have nothing to show for it. 

I am looking for use cases where perfection is not required to have product which still has value. I think video descriptions for YouTube videos might be a good one.

Search engines still rely mostly on text to index content. They are not good at working with images or videos. On the other hand no real person is going to actually read a long description of a video. So recognition errors shouldn't matter much. ​I think that means it would be a good place for practice Dragon output that I don't feel like editing. 

Developing video scripts​

For making screencasts of software in use I prefer to wing it. If  I am reading a script, it sounds like I am reading a script, I am going to try recording a video while I speak to render Dragon audio. ​Then I will see if I can sound "normal" reading the rendered text and syncing the new audio to the screencast. I can see that timing will be an issue but hope some simple editing tricks will let me keep audio and video together. 

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