When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Start Dragon
Ever wonder what you'd do if you were suddenly incapacitated and unable to complete a deadline? After all, only a tiny minority of writers have disability insurance, and sugar daddies are in woefully short supply these days.
After injuring my dominant left arm and shoulder and finding myself unable to type, I quickly thought of a program I heard other writers discussing. Dragon NaturallySpeaking contains everything you need to get started with dictation. Included with the standard program you'll receive one microphone headset and a clear set of instructions to turn your computer into a voice recognition machine.
Yes, you will have to spend some time learning the software and training it to recognize your distinct voice. But within two hours of receiving the package, I was responding to e-mails and beginning work on my manuscript.
At first, Dragon was making many mistakes, and I was constantly forgetting the correct commands. However, in another day I was using the program almost effortlessly -- and that was under the influence of painkillers.
I've thought about trying out Dragon in the past, but I seriously doubted I could write creatively via dictation. However, when forced to make the transition, I found it far easier than expected. Yes, I still have to watch Dragon for mistakes and I'm new enough to the program that I'm forced to give it my full attention. I've also found it's a bit prudish about off-color language, but I'm equally determined to allow my characters to say what they want to say.
At the moment, I'm dictating this blog post. The only corrections I've made so far, outside of a couple of miscues, are the sort of normal tweaks I make any time I'm writing.
For certain, I'm writing much faster than I possibly could typing with one hand, and with far less frustration. I can definitely see why the software is popular among those with temporary or permanent disabilities. While I'm not sure I would've wanted to go through the bother and expense of learning and buying Dragon without a compelling reason, I'm definitely glad I have it now and would highly recommend it to anyone experiencing hand or eye problems.
My husband, a slow typist, is interested in training the software to his voice as well. I'll keep you posted on how that works out for him, though I'm betting without an injury to force him into it, he'll find it more frustrating than helpful.