Is Talking The New Typing?

Will voice recognition replace your keyboard as your primary writing mechanism?

I have a lot of friends that love Dragon Naturally Speaking. I haven’t used the newest version, but my past experience left me feeling worn out just trying to train the thing. It seems like a lot of work to get started with, and the editing process can be brutal after the fact. Then I see friends that are able to crank out 3, 4, or even 5000 words a day after they really get the flow going and I get intrigued all over again.

The idea of speaking to your computer used to be foreign, but now we all have devices all around us and we speak to them all day long. “Siri, what time is Avengers tonight?” “Hey Google, what’s the weather today?” “Alexa, add bacon to my shopping list.” The barrier to entry has significantly decreased and the whole idea is becoming second nature. Not to mention that these apps are getting better at recognizing our voices and returning better results. Welcome to the future.

But what about the physical connection that a writer has with his or her keyboard? Or the connection to a pen and paper for that matter? I have dictated small sections of stories on my phone as I sat in my truck waiting for one of the kids, and it wasn’t terrible, but for short periods of time. The thing that worries me is that when I seriously get into the zone, the tactile feedback of my fingers hitting the keys and the steady click adds to my experience. I feel like a writer in those moments, and that cannot be discounted.

I wonder if as the technology changes our storytelling will change. You might think this is silly, but like I talked about in a blog the other day, the way we write and the tools we use have a direct impact. If that’s the case, what will that change look like? If more writers are dictating their stories, will they sound to the reader like they were dictated? Will the prose sound more conversational? Will dialog feel more alive, or will description feel less important?

Then again, maybe I’m just worrying for nothing. What do you think? Tell me about it.

2 thoughts on “Is Talking The New Typing?

  1. I don’t use Drogon, but I have been experimenting with “voice typing” using Google Docs on my phone. It’s actually pretty good, easily recognizing words and I’ve found I don’t need to “train” it very much — not like Drogon in the old days (*shudder*). The real motivation behind this is to make better use of my commute, as my life is very busy and finding time to write is extremely difficult. I’m a very fast typist, but lately it seems the only time I get to myself is while driving to work (45 min each way).

    One problem I’ve found with it, though, is the grammar. I have no problem with “new paragraph” but for some reason saying (period, question mark, exclamation point, etc) takes me right out of the flow. I’ve thought about just ignoring it grammar entirely while dictating, and then cleaning it up during editing/review.

    What about you – have you tried dictating yet, or are you keeping with typing?

    1. I’m with you Rob, I’ve done the same thing with my phone with some success. I’ve found that It’s handy to get some thoughts out before losing them. But my biggest hang up is the grammar and syntax. It is the most bizarre thing and completely takes me out.
      Now if they can design a system that reads punctuation from the inflection of my voice, that might be a game changer.

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