Whoa! This is Different!

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After reading a blurb on Facebook that promoted the speech recognition software Dragon as an invaluable tool for writers, I thought, this is just what I need. After all how many times had I “written” a narrative in my mind only to “lose” it in a few hours?  And too, wouldn’t it be easier to simply sit back and “talk” the story out? Of course it would be.

Developed by a company called Nuance, Dragon is relatively inexpensive, and I could load the program on three computers. Therefore my blogger friends, I bought it.

Amazon delivered a brown box in two days. With no small amount of excitement and no great hassle, I loaded the program—in three computers! I was ready.

I perused my story outline carefully making sure I had all the character names down pat. This particular story is one that came to mind only a few days ago. I rechecked the simple plot. I adjusted my headset and clicked on the microphone icon.

Nothing. I had absolutely Nothing to say. My mind was a total blank. The number of words that flashed onto the screen: zero.

My first words into my new Voice Recognition program were, “microphone off!” And it turned off. The little icon went from green to red. My brain remained in the dark. Sigh.

I realized that speaking a creative idea is much harder for me than “thinking” and typing/writing. I tried again. The end result was a wooden dialogue. “Shallow” was the word that came to mind. I went to bed. My dear wife looked up from her paperback book of Sudoku puzzles, over the delicate rim of her glasses, and down at me. “Try again in the morning,” she said. “Everything goes better in the morning.”

She was right. This morning an idea sparked. Do dictation as you would do free writing. Just talk and get into the swing of it. Start a “Dictation Journal.”

With “free speaking” in mind, my morning session went much better. I’ve learned to leave out a lot of punctuation commands—I can always go in and type that stuff in—so I got into it and was mildly surprised at how well the narrative progressed. I had close to a thousand words before the hour was up, and it was much smoother than before. This might be something I can use. After all, John Milton dictated over twenty thousand lines of iambic pentameter to his daughters. How hard can it be? Right?

Now I must ask: Does anyone have any suggestions? Advice? Comments? Please send them on. I’m curious if any of my blogger buddies have tried this sort of thing.  Thank you!

28 thoughts on “Whoa! This is Different!

  1. Sha'Tara

    Duhhh… I dunno… the only thing I can think to say to a machine is to swear at it. Since I’m no fan of reading material that depends on the “F” dialogue to carry it, I don’t know that I’d want to try this. When I was involved in “activism” for environment and social justice and I had to do a lot of radio and TV interviews, I used a small tape recorder to keep track of those catch phrases and key words that TV and radio personalities are so enamored or because they seem to say a lot while meaning nothing… but of course that was different: the stupid thing was just a mirror of my voice back at me-this changes voice to words, so it might be worth a try. Is there an aspect of it where you can speak your thoughts into a recorder, then play the recorder back to your computer later? That would be make more sense to me. If I’m already at the computer, my fingers can type my thoughts pretty much as fast (sometimes faster) than I can organize them. If I were to ‘speak’ what I’m thinking, a 100 word thought would probably stretch over 500 words, and I wouldn’t want to have to edit that! Hard to keep up to all that new technology. Have fun with it!

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      They did have an “updated” version that was $200.00, that would play back your voice. I figured nah, I’d stick with the “home” version. I’m gonna hang with it for awhile and see how it goes. So far I have managed better than my first miserable attempt, but then “up” was the only way to go! 🙂 thanks for the reply!

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  2. spearfruit

    I have never tried that particular software. Many of my ideas for posts come in the morning and I will voice record my ideas and thoughts and later type them. I have a habit of forgetting it later in the day if I do not at least do a voice recording as a reminder. Glad it worked out for you. Have a great day! 🙂

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I’m still working on the idea of “free” thinking which is sort of what you do with your morning voice recordings. The difference is that I simply start talking to my computer and see what comes about. Thanks for the positive words!

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  3. hartjangling

    For me, I think something like this would be cool for a memo type use; like, ‘I had a great idea about…’ rather than actually writing the story. Though it might be really handy for dialogue.

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I suppose that’s what I’m doing now…my so called “free thinking” stage. It’s weird. The dialogue thing is the most difficult for me. As I talk, I can see the words come on the screen. At first it was really cool then it started getting in the way. Sigh. I’ve got a loooong ways to go. I ain’t giving up yet. Oh, by the way, “ain’t” always comes out “ant.” Hmmmm.

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      1. paulabroome427 Post author

        Whoa! Excellent suggestions! I think I’ll try both, but I have a feeling that closing my eyes, may just do the trick. I say that because at first watching the words pop up on the screen was cool, but then it became a hindrance.

        Thank you dear hart! You’re great. 🙂

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  4. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

    That made a good story in itself! I am impressed you took to it so easily. I have recorded poems when walking or upon awakening at night I can eek out a few paragraphs of something–so maybe this would work for me. I am a terrible typist, so perhaps this program would assist me…

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      Thank you! Yeah, it’s a continuing saga! I’m trying to more or less “train” my self to speak my thoughts aloud. I thought it would be quite easy but for me it’s not. Wordsworth often composed his poetry aloud while walking about the Lake District. And of course, as I’ve already mentioned, there’s Milton. So I know it can be done! 🙂 My belief is that it can work to some degree…what that degree is, is what I intend to find out. Thanks and hey, give it a try.

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      1. Cynthia Guenther Richardson

        I do enjoy typing away even with errors since I am not a good typist. There is something about the rhythm of it, the physical work it takes. Or the ole pencil or pen in hand works quite well. Love paper. Sigh. Technology has its usefulness, for certain!

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  5. Emily J.

    I really wanted to believe that this would work for transcribing the interviews I have conducted over the years for research. I’m pretty sure it won’t. Don’t you have to speak carefully? I don’t think interview conversations would work!

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    1. Sha'Tara

      Probably much like those closed captions on YouTube. Check those out. They “write” as they “hear” the sounds, so you have to do a bit of “translating” and editing in your mind to figure out what’s actually being said. But if you are conducting the interview, and you know the interviewee’s stance, plus you know your own lines, it shouldn’t be difficult to edit the written results. And it’s fast!

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    2. paulabroome427 Post author

      Emily, you hit hard, but you hit the mark! 🙂 I have realized that one issue is that I have to speak carefully more so than usual. The up side is that the program is helping me enunciate better…that means downplay my horrid southern accent. I can though use some inflection, but I’m learning about that as well. I’m getting better with narration, but dialogue is still a challenge. I’m going to keep working at it. I think ultimately I’ll go with a mixture of Voice Recognition and simply typing. And I sincerely thank you for your response. It’s always good to hear from you.

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  6. Deb

    Oh I’m so excited that you got this. I have been thinking about getting it too. I watch QVC on occasion and they have had it on. I watched the presentation. I thought wow how great would it be to “write” a book this way. You can speak it and once your mind gets flowing out it will come. I think the machine will adjust to your inflections or at least that’s what I thought they said it would do. I think the closing of the eyes is a great idea, get comfortable, maybe listen to some relaxing music or even have 10-15 minutes of sitting quiet before you start then sit or lie down and let your mind begin to wander. Keep me posted on how it develops as I’m very interested in trying it myself!! Love the duck photo btw…bottoms up!! 🙂

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I’m still in the remedial stages with the Voice Recognition stuff, and yes, it does adjust to your voice, but there’s a limit. I do have to talk-not slowly-but with better than usual enunciation, which is good for me whether I’m writing or not! My southern drawl could use some shaking up. 🙂

      What is most interesting though is the experience of “talking” my story out. It’s different from recording notes, even though one could do that, of course, but creating out loud is, for me, rather difficult. I think the meditation period is a good idea. Thank you!

      Oh, the duck! There’s a small lake at the end of town and every now and then Sadako and I take Cody there to walk. I always take my camera because ducks, and geese are always swimming about. I remember Cody laid down when I was taking these pics…totally bored! What a dog!

      Thanks for the great reply and Cody gets a great “good morning hug” for you!

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      1. Deb

        I can imagine it will take some getting used to talking your book out loud. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but like anything I bet you get used to it like having a conversation with someone and telling them the story…I remember when I graduated from high school (barely) we moved from MA to FL and I was there for the summer and boy it did not take long to pick up that southern accent, especially “y’all” I can see Dragon now saying What? What? What? tee hee..
        That is the cutest pic. So Cody doesn’t chase after them huh…well that’s a good thing!! Thanks for the hug Cody…what a good boy!!! Roll over… 😉 lol

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  7. Mary Job

    Sounds interesting, no harm in trying new methods. Just remember, you can’t schedule creativity. So keep playing around with it, have fun with it, and you did be surprised just how great thoughts are narrowed down to perfection. I like your wife already, perhaps I would try this someday, I can just imagine having thousands of hours or rambling 😂😂😂by the way, I tagged you here – https://mariajob.me/2016/07/04/the-happiness-tag/

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  8. elementhealing

    I have thought about purchasing Dragon. As a tool I think it would be very useful once you get used to it. I think though, that it isn’t a stand alone tool. You never know when or where an idea might hit. You might be shopping or something. I use my phone to dictate ideas and that has been a great help for me to not lose moments of inspiration.

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I couldn’t agree more. It is morphing into a secondary operation. My interest now is using Dragon to improve my ability to think aloud which I believe has a number of benefits. And yeah, I still use the ol’ pencil and pad to jot down ideas and instant inspiration. Thank you for your wonderful response and I really like your blog. I’m now following! Thank you again.

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      1. elementhealing

        That is a cool way to use it. If you can take a thought and follow it without having to write or type it out, you have the freedom to focus more on just being creative. Thank you for the follow! I look forward to reading more of your posts. 🙂

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  9. Karina Pinella

    Like you, I would probably start by being speechless. I never liked leaving messages in machines, so I might be mic shy in the beginning. Sounds like you started adapting. You’ll be a pro in no time.

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I’ve managed to conquer my initial shock of speaking into a headset mic! I think, though, I will use this more to simply “free-talk” instead of free-write. And when–as I chat away–an idea comes to mind I simply “say it.”

      So thank you Karina for your encouragement. Hope you have a great day!

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    1. paulabroome427 Post author

      I’m still not convinced that it’s the thing for me. I think I’m going to have to wait another few years. I like Dragon, BUT it does miss a good number of words–whole phrases in some cases. So, the verdict is still out…way out.

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