I think we’re all looking for ways to be more productive these days. COVID19 has thrown our schedules into chaos and, if we’re lucky enough to still be working, it’s changed the way we do it. So I was excited to see this post from Rafal Reyzer about speech-to-text software and how it can help writers with efficiency, enabling us to do more in less time.
After writing on my keyboard for many years, I started feeling pain in my right wrist. This was a major blow to my identity as a writer because what I loved doing the most became a source of anguish.
I started searching for solutions and made sure that my workspace was perfect in terms of ergonomics. I adjusted my posture, bought a vertical mouse (this was a game-changer), started doing yoga, and adopted a healthier lifestyle.
But what made the biggest difference in my process and enabled me to write faster was getting acquainted with dictation (or speech-to-text) software.
Now, after using dictation in my day-to-day work for over two years, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in writing speed, ergonomics, and even how I’m able to express myself verbally. If you want to literally write as you speak, I have a couple of great tips you’ll find valuable and easy to learn. Let’s begin by talking about how speech-to-text software can enhance your writing efforts….
It Boosts Productivity
The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute (WPM). If you’re a skilled writer, this number goes up to 50 or 60 words per minute. But did you know that if you speak, you can produce between 125 and 150 words every 60 seconds?
Of course, writing requires forethought and creative deliberation, so you won’t produce 1000 words of clean prose in 10 minutes just by switching to dictation. But it definitely can help. According to this Stanford study, the speech-to-text method is three times faster than typing.
We also have anecdotal evidence from writers like Joanna Penn, who’s able to dictate up to 5000 words per hour while only managing around 1500 words per hour when typing. I have to admit that I’m not that fast, but using dictation did make a huge difference in my productivity levels. I was able to type around 800 words per hour, but by “speaking to my computer,” I can produce almost 2000 words in the same period.
If boosting your productivity and writing in a more ergonomic way sounds good to you, let’s take a look at how you can start experimenting with speech-to-text software.
Suggested Dictation Apps (And How to Use Them)
The first and most obvious choice is the free voice typing tool from Google Docs. To get started, open a new document, go to “tools” and then click on “voice typing.” You’ll see the microphone icon appear on the left side of the screen, where you can pick an accent (there is everything from standard US pronunciation to English used in Tanzania or the Philippines). Click on the mic icon, and you’re ready to go.
Google Docs is fine, but you’ll soon realize that the app has its limitations, and voice recognition is not always accurate. So if you want to take it to a higher level, I suggest investing in a Nuance Dragon, which in my estimation is one of the top dictation apps. It costs $150 for the lifetime license, but it’s well worth the money, as it offers advanced voice commands and allows you to use dictation in any text field on your computer. Now, instead of being locked into the Google Docs environment, you can also dictate emails, social media posts, or chat messages.
Hardware: Which Microphone Is Best for Dictation?
With the advent of natural language processing and machine learning-powered devices and apps such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home Assistant, or Siri, you can already count on high levels of accuracy in speech recognition.
But if you’re using dictation apps for writing, hardware becomes even more important. So, if you want to achieve nearly perfect levels of voice recognition and conjure words on your screen as if by magic, you’d be wise to invest in a high-quality microphone.
If you’re working in a relatively quiet space, I suggest getting a desktop microphone, like the one that you would use for podcasting (a quality gooseneck mic is also good). Anything below $20 won’t work, so spend a bit more ($40 – $100), and you’ll notice the difference. The producers of dictation apps recommend using headsets (ranging from $100-$200) for the best results, but the idea of keeping a headset on all the time didn’t appeal to me, as I like to be as free as possible when writing.
Are You Ready To Experiment With Speech-To-Text Software?
I hope that after reading this article (which was produced entirely by voice), you can see that using speech-to-text software is not only a viable way to write, but it can also increase your daily word output and let you work in a healthier way.
Do you have any experience with speech-to-text apps? I would be happy to learn about your experience, so please feel free to leave a comment below.
Rafal Reyzer is a full-time blogger, freelance writer, digital marketer, editor and content manager. He started RafalReyzer.com to provide readers with great tools and strategies they can use to achieve freedom from 9-5 through online creativity. His site is a one-stop-shop for writers, bloggers, publishers, content enthusiasts and freelancers who want to be independent, earn more money and create beautiful things. You can also find him on Pinterest and Goodreads.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.