Here’s a device to help you write faster…

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Have you ever considered using speech recognition software? Here’s what it can do for you…

I am writing this blog post without moving my hands. That’s because I’m using speech recognition software. Here are five reasons why you might want to consider using such software, too:

  1. It allows me to write faster than I can type. I’m a very fast typist — I can do about 90 wpm most days. But given that the average human speaks at 110 to 150 words per minute — and thinks even faster than that — there’s no way I’ll ever catch up. Using speech recognition allows me to write almost as fast as my brain will go, without having to wait for my slow-poke fingers.
  2. It is less physically taxing. This, in fact, is the main reason I have switched to speech recognition. I have chronic back problems and the doctor figures my more-or-less constant typing is not helping matters. Being able to dictate allows me to keep my shoulders back and down, which keeps me in better posture and helps me stay relaxed.
  3. It allows me to walk while I write, which enhances creativity. As you may know, if you’re a long-time reader of my blog, I’m a big believer in the value of walking while writing. Usually, I just walk in my neighbourhood. But, since starting to use voice activation, I walk around my office and dictate at the same time. This is way more productive. (Although it doesn’t stop me from going outside to get some exercise in the fresh air, too.)
  4. It leads me to use more colloquial, everyday language. Not that this was ever a huge problem of mine, but writers sometimes end up sounding overly “official” or pompous when they write. Few of us talk that way however, and the closer our writing is to talking, the more natural we sound. Dictating your writing is an excellent way to keep your language more casual.
  5. For anyone who feels “blocked,” dictating can provide a welcome respite. Experts suggest working to beat writer’s block with a variety of changes, such as writing in a different location. Changing your actual mode of writing — i.e. dictating instead of writing with your hands — could be just the dramatic switch that you need.

I use a software called Dragon (available for both Windows and Mac) and have found it to be very easy to integrate into my working life. (I am not paid by them and receive no recompense for this recommendation.) It’s reasonably priced in the $100 to $250 range for all versions except the professional one (aimed at doctors and lawyers, I believe), which is more expensive.

I do have one suggestion, though: if you’re going to invest in invest in speech recognition software, it’s well worth getting a personal trainer. I had tried Dragon several years ago and had just given up. This time, I hired a trainer and in less than an hour was well on my way to success. (If you want the name of my trainer, send me a quick email and I’ll happily give it to you.)

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