Bearding the Dragon

Bearding the Dragon is my attempt to add humor to what I expect to be the painful experience of finally coming up to speed with Dragon Naturally Speaking. I tried twice in the past and failed both times.

What’s different this time?

  • I found Scott Baker’s book The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon.
  • I now have a high quality USB mic (Blue Yeti)
  • Vision issues are slowing my already pathetic typing speed
  • Keeping my legs elevated after upcoming surgery will slow my already dreadful keyboarding speed.
  • I discovered Chris Fox and his 5,000 words per hour book
  • I will be home alone for the next two weeks

So What?

Scott Baker pointed out Dragon 13 Premium at $73 is just as good as the most recent version for $300. $73  is affordable!

He  harps on starting with draft quality. I was after finished work before. I found it really frustrating to in effect waste a ton of time dictating words I knew I would throw away. This time around I have some ideas for use cases where draft quality is good enough. For example, the text description that can be included with a YouTube video. Knowing how hard it is to index images or video the 4,000 character text description you can append to your YT videos is obviously important. At my 10 to 15 WPM I haven’t been doing it.

My previous efforts  were made with the mic Nuance sends with the software. Scott says that is a  really bad idea. Since I have been gearing up to make screencast videos I now have a good mic on a boom arm which I can easily swing into place.

I type with all my fingers, but I have to look at my hands most of the time and I make a lot of mistakes. I bought an expensive Das Keyboard keyboard without fully appreciating the warnings it tended to insert extra spaces. Unless your hand position is perfect, you will end up with frequent extra spaces. Put those two factors together and I am constantly editing as I go. That is a known speed killer. I am starting to think Dragon might actually require less editing.

Having to watch my  fingers is especially detrimental when I am trying to summarize information displayed in a different window.  I use two monitors. To write product reviews I have the Amazon page open in one window while I type into WordPress in another. The need to read a sentence or two in the reviews, look at my fingers as I type, check the WP window and fix problems, look back to (and find my place in_ the Amazon window…   is slow. Really slow!

I have some programming background and Chris Fox’s ideas about  getting books ranked on Amazon make a lot of sense to me. In particular, his belief that Who you sell your first books to is more important that how many you sell seemed really on target. When you add to that his suggestions for increasing your words written per day the idea of profits from publishing became much more real.

Chris was a strong proponent of Dragon a year or so ago although he seems to have backed off of that recently. However, he is young and confesses to typing  120 WPM. It seems to me Dragon has a lot more potential for me since I am coming from such a slow typing speed. This post, for example, has already taken me more than an hour and my word count stands at 487. This kind of “off the top of my head” writing is the  easiest and should go the quickest. There is no question that increasing my writing speed would have major benefits.

Home Alone

I feel stupid talking to my computer! I don’t like the sound of my voice. I don’t speak particularly well. Being home alone removes one of the psychological barriers to learning Dragon. If I can get past that I think I will be on my way. I saw a post in the Dragon Rider’s Facebook group that said you should “tie your hands behind your back for a week”. That seems like good advice.

Getting real

Now I have to spend the $75, install Dragon, and prepare for a week of frustration while I struggle. With the fabulous 9 words per minute of this page (711/80) the bar I have to clear to declare Dragon a success is very low.