Thanks to speech-to-text engines it’s now possible for anyone with a smartphone to become one of the great dictators. Not the testosterone-fuelled – my rocket is bigger than your rocket – kind of dictator. I’m talking here about writers who use dictation to speak their way to a story.
Dictation was once the preserve of writers like Barbara Cartland, who worked with an assistant sitting nearby, typing every utterance at a hundred words a minute. Improvements in speech-to-text technology mean than we can all dictate like Barbara. If you dream of writing a book while reclining on a sofa, then read on.
I first tried dictation using Windows Speech Recognition two years ago on a Windows 10 laptop. The experiment wasn’t particularly successful. It was easy enough to dictate at well over 2,000 words an hour, a massive improvement on my glacial keyboard-driven pace. But the quality was extremely disappointing. The error rate was high and the manual correction took much longer than expected. It felt like something that needed time and patience to improve on. Disappointed, I put the dream of greater productivity aside and returned to my keyboard.
A recent change in work routine means that I’m away from my desk more often. There are several periods of the day when I have time to write or record ideas about writing. But I don’t have my laptop with me. The obvious answer is to write using my smartphone’s keyboard. But typing on a small screen is a slow business. So I decided to give dictation another try. [Read more…]