As technology changes, so does the way we write.
For almost 1,500 years, letters were written using quill pens. The reign of the quill ended in the early 19th century when John Mitchell from Birmingham, England began developing machine-made steel-point pens. Then along came the typewriter. The computer followed that. Eventually, even the magnificent computer fell by the wayside as the personal laptop became the preferred instrument of writing.
Now the way we write is shifting again.
New advances in technology, come with new ways of writing. The rise of affordable personal recording equipment and audio to text technology means that there is a new breed of writers not using their fingers at all to write. They are using their voice.
Simply record your story, then use an automatic transcription service provider, like Happy Scribe, to convert your audio to text. Whilst using dictation to write might seem alien to some, it comes with a lot of benefits. Here are just a few of the main benefits of writing your book by dictation.
Prevents Health Issues
Writing a book requires long hours hunched over a laptop. Andrew Shantos, a statistician by training, calculated it took him 736 hours from inception to publication to write his first novel. That’s 92 eight-hour days!
Extensive hours in the same position can start to cause strain on your spine, hands and eyes, leading to a litany of ailments including back pain, carpal tunnel, and eye strain.
For those lucky enough not to suffer from such drawbacks yet, choosing recording over typing is a preventative measure. For those writers with these issues already, or with other serious illnesses that make it difficult to sit and type for long periods, dictation can be a life saver.
The recording process lets you walk and talk, helping to elevate repetitive motion and long hours sitting down. An additional side benefit is that walking whilst you ‘write’ can help keep the weight off, something many writers struggle with.
Provides a Safe Space for Brain Dumping
I recently joined a conference call on how to write a book in under 3 months. One of the first things we were told was to just start dumping what is in your head onto paper. Easier said than done when you are staring at a blank computer screen.
The problem with typing is that you get paralysed with fear. You worry about crafting the perfect description. You fuss over using the correct grammar and punctuation. You are staring at a blank screen, in a quiet room, and nothing sparks your imagination.
Recording your first draft, instead of typing, provides an opportunity to get a brain dump of all the ideas swirling around in your head, and it dumps them out quickly.
Saves Time - A LOT of Time
The second thing the host of my writing conference told the participates is that you if you want to write a book in 3 months you need to be writing around 4,200 words a week to reach the 50,000 word goal. This doesn’t sound like a lot, until you start typing out 4,200 words.
Simple fact. Your typing speed is slower than your speaking speed. According to RataType, the average person types about 40 words a minute. However, my writing log shows that I average more like 20 words a minute when I’m writing, typing, and thinking simultaneously. In contrast, the average conversational speed is 150 words per minute.
Based on these average rates, for me, typing 4,200 words in a week will take 3.5 hours. However recording the thoughts in my head would take just under a half an hour. That’s a ton of time saved!
Eliminates Your Inner Editor
I’m sure a major reason why my typing speed is so slow when I write is that I edit whilst I go. I stop to reread what I wrote. I correct punctuation and grammar errors. I head over to Google and research a fact. All of this slows you down, and frankly isn’t very productive. When you use the traditional process of typing to write your brain gets occupied by the irrelevant task of editing.
In contrast, recording your words can help slay your inner editor. You simply can’t edit as easily whilst you are dictating. There is no easy way to stop and review what you wrote.
Which has an another benefit…
Captures Spontaneous Ideas Better
Because you are speaking faster and because you aren’t stopping to reread what you wrote, you can capture all those spontaneous ideas that come to your head.
I don’t know how many times I’ve thought of a great idea in the middle of typing another and by the time my fingers have materialised the words of my initial thought, my secondary thought has dissipated. Recording your thoughts can help eliminate this.
Dialogue Sounds More Natural
Most great books involve dialogue. Writing language is different than speaking language. In dialogue we use less formal language. We insert more colloquialisms. We drop off vowels and other sounds.
By recording your dialogue you can get a more natural sounding tone. This can be especially true if you unleash your inner actor and actress and record your dialogue as if your characters were speaking to each other.
You Can Create Content Anywhere
My dear friend Sasha, at Grateful Gypsies, stated it ever so eloquently in his recent article called the ‘Unvarnished Truth About the Digital Nomad Lifestyle’:
“Digital nomads enjoy sharing photos of themselves working from paradisiacal locations. There they sit, laptop in lap, toes in the sand, looking out at the crashing waves…
What they don’t share with you is that the laptop is burning their legs, the glare from the sun is so strong they can’t see the screen, and sand and salt particles are not a computer’s friend.”
Using the traditional method of writing on a laptop means that your writing locations are constrained. Personally, I need a safe place, with electricity, a table top, and preferably coffee.
Dictating your book into a recorder opens up the locations you can ‘write’ in. The beach scenario above would be no problem! There are many more places you can record your thoughts than there are where you can type them out.
It also allows for multi-tasking in today’s hectic world. You can easily record your next book on your drive home from work or head out for a walk and use your surroundings for inspiration as you ‘write’. The added benefit here is that changing your surroundings can also help unlock writer’s block.
To begin with, recording your words instead of typing them will take some practice, but the benefits are worth exploring this new technology. Just as the methods of writing have changed over the centuries, we as writers need to adapt.
As evidenced by the influx of the likes of Siri on our phones and Alexa in our homes, the next big input method is voice. Dictation is a practical skill for the future, just like learning to type better was an essential skill 20 years ago. If you don’t start embracing voice now, you will be left behind.
If you would like help converting your audio to text after the recording process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy Scribe’s automated transcription service is quick, cost effective, and has a high accuracy rate, even for the most difficult of accents.