Dragon Naturally Speaking is a wonderful productivity tool for authors. I’ve seen a lot of authors talking about it improving productivity and I also see a lot of people out there who have questions about the program. I’ve been using Dragon for years. Like, we’re talking since the first versions came out thanks to my dad being an early adopter in his law office.
I’m an indie author. I know a thing or two about Dragon. I’ve seen a lot of other indie authors with questions about Dragon. It seems like a space where I have some excellent overlapping expertise, so I’m writing a series of posts about how to leverage Dragon for your indie author career!
Dragon Naturally Speaking can revolutionize the way you write. You talk to your computer and, provided it’s a computer of a more recent vintage with at least an i5 processor and four gigs of RAM, what you say appears on the screen with some seriously impressive accuracy. Can’t type all that fast? Dealing with RSI? Read on!
Since this is the start of this series I’m going to lead with why Dragon Naturally Speaking is wonderful and will change the way you write:
Dragon allows you to write fast.
I’m a fast typist. I go at about 140WPM cruising speed on my mechanical keyboard and clock in at about 90WPM when I’m actually writing. That’s still nothing compared to how fast I can get down a first draft of a novel when I’m working with Dragon.
I’ve timed it out and for every three minutes and forty-five seconds I dictate into my recorder I get roughly 500 words. Your results are going to vary, but once you get used to the program you’ll probably see similar speeds, if not faster. Sure there’s a learning curve getting used to dictating into Dragon, but it’s not as steep as some people would have you believe.
Dragon is great for writing first drafts.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes sitting down and writing a first draft can feel like pulling teeth. I find that I don’t have that problem when I sit down with my recorder and start talking away. Before I know it minutes have passed and I have a few thousand words of first draft ready to be transcribed and edited.
I know a lot of writers have a problem putting their butt in the chair and getting out the first draft, and I’m a firm believer that dictating your first draft rather than sitting down to type it can be a lifesaver. Particularly if you’re not a very fast typist.
Dragon forces you to think about what you write.
The frustrating thing about working with Dragon Naturally Speaking is you have to go through and correct mistakes the software makes as it transcribes your words. The wonderful thing about working with Dragon Naturally Speaking is it forces you to go through and do a deep read of your first draft while you’re correcting the mistakes the software makes as it transcribes your words.
This is something I noticed when I was debating about whether I wanted to go with Dragon or just type out my drafts. I type fast enough that it’s actually slightly slower for me to “write” using Dragon Naturally Speaking. By the time I’ve corrected the text I’ve spent more time with Dragon than I’d spend writing a draft by typing.
But I still use Dragon. Mostly because it forces me to go through and revise that first draft and be mindful of what I’m putting on the page. Time spent correcting the errors that inevitably crop up in what Dragon puts out is also time spent on revision, and I feel like between the more natural voice I get dictating and being more mindful of what’s put on the page I get a better end product with Dragon because of that extra pass.
Dragon will make your writing voice feel more natural.
I just said this above, but it bears repeating. This is anecdotal, but all of my books that have been wildly successful, like we’re talking reaching the top 1000 in the Amazon store, have been books that I dictated. This is just a gut feeling I have and I don’t have hard data to back it up, but I feel like dictating makes for something that sounds more natural. Your mileage may vary on how your personal writing voice sounds when dictating, but I think using Dragon is a net positive in this department.
Dragon allows for easy writing on the go.
This is the real game changer with Dragon. Sure anyone can write by tapping out on their phone, but Dragon Naturally Speaking and a digital voice recorder truly allows you to write anywhere. It’s wonderful.
This is how I used Dragon when I was working a full time job. As soon as I started making money from my writing I thought back to watching my dad use the program in his law practice and I knew it was going to be the force multiplier that allowed me to really ramp up my writing productivity. I invested in a copy of Dragon Professional and a Sony Digital Voice Recorder and never looked back.
Being able to record on the go opened up my writing career. I had an hour commute in the morning and anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half in the evenings. That entire time I was able to dictate using a headset (gotta be responsible while doing this guys!). I gave up podcasts for that year. On my lunch hour and when I got home in the evening I would transcribe and edit. I’d dare say I was more productive in those focused days when I was working a day job than some weeks when I was doing writing full time.
Transcription will change the way you work. I guarantee it. And I’m going to tell you all about how to do it properly in this series!
Dragon helps with RSI
Repetitive strain injury. It’s the bane of anyone who works at a computer for any appreciable length of the day. Because I type so ridiculously fast it’s something that I battled constantly when I went full time as an author, but with Dragon the danger of RSI can be a thing of the past. Sure there can be a different set of issues with making sure you don’t strain your voice, but the worry there isn’t nearly as bad as the worry of injury to your fingers or wrists.
I’ve done a lot to combat RSI before it became a real problem, and by far the best thing that I ever did in that never ending war was use a voice recorder coupled with Dragon transcription rather than sitting down and typing everything out.
You might be asking yourself who I am and what makes me worth listening to when it comes to all things Dragon. That’s easy. I’ve been working with Dragon since the first version came out in the late ’90s. I’d help around my dad’s law office growing up and a big part of that involved going through finished documents he recorded correcting mistakes and retraining Dragon. I’ve been working with the program for twenty years now.
I’ve also been using Dragon extensively in my writing business as I mentioned above in the “writing on the go” section. I credit Dragon Naturally Speaking with giving me the productivity boost I needed to create content at a level where I could go full time as a writer. I’ve been an independent author working in erotica and romance since 2014. I went full time in 2015 and I’ve been doing the full time writing gig under various pen names since February of that year. In that time I’ve reacquainted myself with the ins and outs of Dragon on both PC and Mac.
So you might say I know a few things about being a successful indie author and successfully leveraging Dragon for your indie publishing ventures. I’m excited to help the world use Dragon, and I hope you’re excited about getting started with this amazing productivity tool!
Stay tuned to my blog for the next post in this series that goes into all the various flavors of Dragon and how to decide which one is right for you!