Posted in Writing

The Pros and Cons of Writing by Hand

pile of screwed up handwritten manuscripts
With apologies to the trees who laid down their lives in the cause of literature…

Lately I’ve been finding that I am much more productive and the words flow more naturally if I write my work-in-progress novel by hand. This is despite being a really fast touch typist. Part of the reason may be that I associate my computer with work and am more averse to sitting down at my desk to type than curling up in bed or on the sofa with a beautiful notebook and pretty coloured pen.

Of course, this adds an extra step into the writing process. I then have to type  each handwritten chapter into the computer afterwards. On the plus side, I do a few extra edits as I do that, so the first typescript becomes the second draft.

Enter the Dragon

I can speed up that process by dictating the manuscript via my Dragon voice recognition software, which then types the words on the screen for me. I definitely recommend this process, but at the moment post-cold hoarseness is limiting the amount of time I can comfortably dictate. But at least I’ve stopped coughing now, which always confused my Dragon. You think with its fire-breathing heritage, a Dragon ought to be more sympathetic to throat problems.

Productivity Plus

Two further plus points:

  • I’m fast eroding my stockpile of notebooks (couldn’t fit any more in my notebook drawer)
  • I’ve just worked out that since Christmas I’ve been averaging more than 2,000 words a day

Go, me! And now I’m off to plant some more trees…. *

Useful Links

*And about those trees – the paper I use is always from sustainable sources, purposely farmed for this use. I’m sure none of it comes from ripping up rainforests. To my mind, complaining about responsible use of paper is like protesting about the destruction of wheatfields to make bread. And I am VERY mean about my use of paper – if I don’t use both sides, I tear a sheet into pieces and use the clean side for notes. Then all the waste is used as firestarters for my woodburner. While trying not to think of burning books. Just saying. 
Posted in Self-publishing, Writing

Training My Dragon (Dragon Voice Recognition Software, That Is)

Picture of a dragon reading a book
How I’m training my Dragon

A post about my new toy: voice recognition software

As a multi-tasking, overloaded author who still hasn’t mastered the art of saying “no”, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve my productivity and time management.

Recently I was introduced by my author friend Orna Ross, founder and director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, to a new way of squeezing more words out of each day: using voice recognition software.

To my amusement and delight, the software she recommended is known as “Dragon”, manufactured by Nuance, and to increase its (already impressive) accuracy, you are encouraged to “train” it. The training consists of reading specific extracts of text to help it get used to your voice.

I’m still at the early stages of using Dragon (and also a free speech recognition programme that was included with my other new toy – how spoiled am I? – my tablet). But I have to say it’s great fun, and much more reliable than whatever they use to produce the subtitles on news programmes, which are always full of amusing errors. To be fair, part of the problem there may be that the software has to respond to an ever-changing variety of voices and accents, rather than acclimatizing to one.

Not Just for Authors

Voice recognition software is useful not only to authors, but to anyone who types a lot of text on computers – business letters, blog posts, emails, even social media updates. If you’d like to find out more about it, you may like to read the blog post I’ve just written in my capacity as Commissioning Editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors on their blog of self-publishing advice here: http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/voice-recognition/

Rather pleasingly, when I was first starting to use Dragon, it interpreted the name “Orna Ross” as “Order Rocks” – and I’m hoping that now that I’ve mastered it, order will indeed rock, in my study, if not throughout the house.