I’ve always found it easier to put words into writing than to say them out loud, there’s something about the connection between my brain and my fingers that helps me find what I want to say, yet I struggle to access this level of coherence when I’m speaking.
My friend rocked my world recently by showing me how to use the dictation function on Word (I’m slowly making my way into the twenty-first century). My first thoughts were: amazing, now I’ll be able to write while I’m cleaning the toilet (yes, my life really is that glamorous). Yet my first attempt at dictating a blog piece (this one) was a little underwhelming.
Dictation starts now
It feels clunky, I’m not really sure what to say. There’s no flow and I’m full of of um’s and ah’s (which came out as, open brackets rooms and ours). Whilst the command for a full stop seems to work, other punctuation is proving problematic, I can see some heavy editing on the horizon, though an article I read suggests the more I use Windows dictation the better it will get at understanding what I’m asking it to do.
This reminded me of a movie I watched recently called Her. It’s a futuristic sci-fi romance. The main character is a writer who dictates letters to an artificially intelligent computer which then handwrites them. His character seems to manage his flow with ease, so it’s given me something to aim for. I know that the late great Terry Pratchett dictated some of his books, so I’m determined not to be put off by my initial difficulties.
At the very least I think this tool will be invaluable for taking notes when I’m not able to sit and write properly, perhaps for getting those initial ideas down quickly before they drift into the ether in search of someone else to write them. I can see how dictation may help me to become better at expressing my more complicated thoughts verbally, and who doesn’t want to be a better conversationalist?
Oh my goodness there’s a pheasant in my garden! Now, had my eyes been focused on the keyboard instead of staring out of the window as I try to gather my thoughts for dictation, then I would have missed this beautiful bird. Now, how to stop dictating without typing stop dictating stop dictating
Third time lucky. Overall I think dictation will be a useful tool. It’s not going to revolutionise my writing just yet, but I think it’s a technique worth developing, particularly as technology advances and dictation tools become even better at transcribing. I can’t imagine myself ever wanting to write purely through dictation, as the connection with the keyboard seems to allow me to tap into my thoughts at a deeper level, but then I probably once thought this about handwriting and I barely do that now, so who knows how things will change as technology advances? Perhaps one day we won’t even have to speak the words out loud, we’ll just be able to think them onto the page. It’s scary and exciting all at the same time.
How about you, how do you write the first drafts of your blog posts, poems and stories?
Does the thought of a world where people rarely write using their hands fill you with dread, or is writing writing no matter how it gets to the page?