Shared publicly  - 
 
Does anyone use speech recognition software to write with? What are the benefits/drawbacks for you?

+Sonia Medeiros had an interesting post recently about her experience with the Windows speech recognition software that came on her computer and with Dragon.
1
Margaret McGaffey Fisk's profile photoApril Brown's profile photoTiffany A. White's profile photoMarcy Kennedy's profile photo
11 comments
 
Hi Marcy. My hands are doing better than they were when I first started using voice recognition, so I don't use it as much as I used to, but I like Dragon especially for non-fiction as my mind works well while pacing...besides, it's good exercise.

The benefits are obvious: You can move, you are not tied to looking at the screen, for some people it's faster, and it can help develop your dialogue skills because your mouth is more used to talking normally than your fingers (okay, a little with IM, but still :)).

The downsides seem to be different for everyone, but the ones I've experienced/heard are: With voice recognition, you don't do as much autocorrection as you do with your hands so you learn just how illogical your speech is (it's an education that I originally blamed the software for then discovered my hands do the same when tired :p), you have to be careful to keep your throat wet because it's as taxing as talking non-stop, and there is a learning curve before you get the hang of it (you may find non-fiction comes easier than fiction or visa versa).

It's hard to give up the keys (or pen if that's your method), but even if you don't desperately need it now, laying the groundwork means if you do have issues, you're already set. And if you don't, well, do your draft blog posts while jumping on a trampoline and you'll make progress while exercising for real :).
 
Thanks +Margaret McGaffey Fisk! I really like the idea that I could be moving while writing. I have back problems so sitting still for long periods of time often means I end the day in pain. When I'm able to move around, especially when I'm able to walk, I do much better. I think every writer could also use the training in speaking, since that's become very much a part of the job anymore.
 
Well, I highly recommend a rebounder :). Heck when I'm not using voice rec, I put an exercise ball on my rebounder and bounce while I type. It's not good when my back is already out, but it helps keep my core muscles in order so my back goes out less frequently. Also, it's probably worth upgrading to the blue tooth mic so you have a greater range of motion.
 
I tried Microsoft's version first. It managed to correctly type 1 out of 1,000 words.

I tried Dragon. It worked okay for the first three uses. It managed, at first, to only mess up about 1 in 100 words beyond figuring out. Then, I would have to manually backspace and fix the word, as it refused to correct it.

By the fourth time of using it, it would type a few words and hang. I'd wait ten minutes for it to put a "sentence" on the screen. That sentence bore no resemblance to what I had said.

By the sixth time of trying to use Dragon, it wouldn't even load on the computer. It would crash, and I'd have to restart the computer.

So, at first I had great results, several pages of work. Until I went back to edit, and had no idea what some of the sentences were supposed to be.

I guess not only do I have several invisible physical illnesses, loss of vision and hearing, I must also have a speech impediment, likely caused by the combination as well.
 
April, yes, the Microsoft version is lame, and I say this as an experienced voice rec user. However, your experience with Dragon is odd. Personally, I'd reinstall at that point (first make sure your system has enough memory and speed to handle it). You can also change the settings toward more accuracy or more speed. The other tip I'd give is to practice "walk away" when you get frustrated. When frustrated, our vocal cords tighten up and provide fewer clues to what we need to say. This is especially important for the corrections, as I learned early on because each time it messed up, I'd get more stressed, more tight, and it would get worse. The other things are, as I mentioned before, make sure you keep your throat wet, especially at first, and do the training. If it starts getting worse, do the training again. I actually do have a couple speech impediments that I mostly control, but they slip out every once in a while when I'm tired. It's training both the voice rec software and yourself. I've never gone so far as to get vocal training, but when it says to sit up properly, I walk to ensure better airways, and I pay attention to the strain and don't overuse. It's an effort to get it set, but after a while the ramp up is much shorter. One thing is to let it run the document discovery to figure out how you think, and the other is to read in hand written pieces. And trigger the correct this dialogue with the keyboard if necessary at first to get the most fine tuning. You can also train a specific word or phrase if it consistently trips up. Consider it the equivalent of learning to touch type. You already knew how to move your fingers just as you know how to use your voice, but it takes training to learn how to move them specifically for the purpose of touch typing.
 
I use Dragon on my phone periodically and one thing I don't like about it is the inability to train it. You talk, it records and uploads to servers, then returns text to you. And if it gets it wrong, you can't retrain that word or phrase.
 
I tend to record on my phone and just upload the MP3 to be translated at home.
 
Once I start on my next novel, I will reinstall Dragon on a newer computer, and try again. Likely July, before I get to that! Am editing two different projects now, one in query stages, and a second I need to update based on beta notes. Busy as a bee in my summer Marigolds!
 
I use Dragon. It's not bad...but you have to speak very clearly. My speak to text on my phone is better.
 
I have a very soft voice, so I wonder if that would be a detriment as well?
Add a comment...