Friday, April 5, 2013

Talk to Type Programs: A Computerized Resource for Writers

This week, we're pausing the author-tips interviews for just a bit longer to talk about some helpful technology support for your career.

Do your fingers hurt when you type too much? 

Or, are you perhaps a really slow typer?

Do you think you might have to stop writing just because your hands hurt or because typing takes too long?

Think again! You have many options.

You can:

1.) Keep writing, despite the pain or slowness - after all "only the tough get published!" (It's sarcasm, ya'll, sarcasm! : )).

2.) Hire your teenaged grand-daughter to type your story verbatim while you talk. Tell her you'll pay her $10.00 an hour and assure her that if she says negative things about your plot or characters, and thus crushes your self-esteem, that you'll make sure that the cute boy down the street will never ever ask her to prom!

3.) See a doctor for that finger pain (always a plausible, and perhaps a very good option.)


4) Get technological help...

Any of these options might be the one you choose, but today let's talk about 

Have you tried the computer programs that can type for you, while you talk?
If you are looking for a computer program that will type what you say, there are a number of options. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and you can find more possibilities via an online search.  But I'm listing a few options here to show you the possibilities.

Group 1: Free Options

1.) Windows Speech Recognition is a new feature in Windows Vista built using the latest Microsoft speech technologies. Windows Vista Speech Recognition provides recognition accuracy that improves with each use as it adapts to your speaking style and vocabulary. Speech Recognition is available in English (U.S.), English (U.K.), German (Germany), French (France), Spanish (Spain), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified). This program is only free if you already have Windows Vista on your computer.

2.) Windows 7, Windows XP, and other Windows editions also offer Speech Recognition as a program option. Here (click the link) is information on these Speech Recognition Programs and how to install them on your computer.

Group 2: Not Free, but Still Really Good

Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 (for PCs) is a dictation program that can help you write everything from novels to emails to your thesis in college.  It comes in English and Spanish. The same company also sells Dragon Dictate for Macs.  Click the link above for a sample video showing how the program works. For additional videos click here.  The program is often on sale for between $75-100 from the manufacturer - Nuance.  For the truly technologically savvy - there's even a related Iphone app.

How do I know which one is for me?

Here's a potentially helpful review of the Windows 7 Speech Recognition Software vs. the Dragon Naturally Speaking Software, for those of us who'd like to see some similarities and differences. One thing to note  is that all of these programs have some difficulty understanding what you are saying, initially. You have to train them to understand your particular speech patterns and accent/pronunciation. This is done by reading a lot of text out loud to the computer program and also by letting the program review your emails and text documents (including prior fiction/nonfiction writing) on your computer, so that it learns not only how you speak but also how you write.

Note: This blog post was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking in Microsoft Word, and then it was cut and pasted and posted on this blog. (That's simply because I don't usually use Dragon outside of Word -- not because these programs can't type directly into a blog or an email, they can.)  This post could probably just as easily have been written with one of the other talk-to-text programs as well.

So, if you're looking for a way to use your hands less when you're writing, but still keep doing what you love, you might want to consider a talk-to-type (aka talk-to-text) program as a resource.  They're not perfect -- and you do have to edit.  But perhaps a talk to text program is right for you., talking, writing, revising, and submitting.
See you again next week on Writermorphosis.


Janelle said...

Hey - a big welcome to the Writermorphosis readers from some of the countries that have most recently started stopping by this blog -- Poland, Brazil, and Georgia! Welcome!

Liz said...

Really great post. Speech to text software has gotten so much better which is wonderful! Thanks for the tips.

Velda said...

This is cool!