by Joseph T. Sinclair
This is a follow-up to my original article Writing by Voice written in the fall of 2013 and posted at the beginning of 2014. During four months in 2014 starting in June, I dictated about 100,000 words while hiking. My dictating procedure changed a little.
I never did like wearing a headset or ear buds (with mic) while hiking. So I started dictating just using my Phillips DVT1000 recorder using just the internal mics. It was almost hidden in my hand, and I would raise the recorder to my face when recording. You have to have a way of starting and stopping the recording regardless, so you need to have the recorder in your hand even when dictating via a headset. Voice activation does not seem to work well for dictating.
Sometimes I carry a brief hand-written outline of what I want to dictate. I look at the outline from time to time. For long dictations, I sometimes carry a detailed outline typically printed from a word processor file.
When I lost my backup recorder, I bought and started using a Phillips DVT3000, a version of the same recorder but with a noise-suppression feature. Without the use of a headset, a recording tends to be more noisy. The DVT3000 has done a little better job of recording and costs about $65 discounted. In addition, I bought the newest version of Dragon Naturally Speaking released in the summer of 2014.
My mood dictates the quality of the recording, which directly affects the quality of the transcription by Dragon. If I’m in a pensive mood, my voice is quiet and does not record the best. If I’m in a hardy mood, my voice is stronger and records better. Strong wind is another factor adversely affecting a recording. The DVT 3000 has a wind-suppression feature which helps.
In prior years I used to love to write via typing on my computer keyboard. Now I definitely don’t like to write that way. I’ve found myself saving my writing tasks for when I hike. Dragon does a great job of transcription but not perfect. But my writing continues to be better and more efficient using Dragon. And I somehow don’t mind using my keyboard to edit.
What will work for you? If you’re not a hiker, where and how can you dictate? Attorneys, executives, and the like have used hand-held dictating recorders at their desks for over 100 years. Doctors have used such recorders while moving from x-ray to x-ray and in other transient applications. In addition to dictating during recreation or healthful activities such as hiking, there are many opportunities to dictate while doing routine tasks that require no thought.
Unfortunately, driving is not an activity that accommodates dictating (unless you have a chauffer). Although it’s quite possible to dictate effectively while driving, it’s clearly not safe. I’ve tried it and feel uncomfortable doing it. Studies have shown that anything that distracts a driver even just a little bit increases the chances of an accident substantially. Eating is a good example, and of course using a smart phone is a new example that’s causing havoc on the highways. Hence, don’t do your dictating while doing tasks made dangerous by your dictation, such as driving .
All in all, the capability to write better and more efficiently with less effort while doing something routine and thoughtless is a godsend—particularly because it’s not expensive any longer.
The author of this article, Joseph T. Sinclair, is the author of twenty How To books published by national publishers.
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©2014 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.