Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Dragon vs. the Keyboard

Nanowrimo Day 8 - 14926 words.  Staying one day ahead of the daily goal (for today it's 13333).

The key is balance.  Although I went to two write-ins yesterday my goal is not to write as many words as I can, but to lay the foundations for this novel just by doing scene work and doing it in an easy 50,000 words.  Every day when I open my computer, I have no clue what I'm going to write, but if I have one sentence or a phrase (e.g. "main character is reunited with her brother"), then I'm able to sit down and write out that scene.

I'm also still doing research.  At the recommendation of two people, I decided to buy the Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software, not for the writing but for brainstorming new ideas based on the reference books I'm reading.  So far, Dragon has been a slick program and fairly accurate.  You speak into a microphone, and it types out your words.  It does take some practice.  You have to speak all your punctuation and formatting (comma, period, new paragraph, next line), and sometimes if you breath too heavy you get an "s" in your text box.  Overall, though it's been nice to be able to skim a paragraph in a book and then speak the summary or new idea that's triggered from your reading.

Technology changes the way we write.  I remember how difficult it was moving from the tactile experience of pen and paper to the head-to-keyboard thinking of using a computer.  I once had a job where everyone had a computer on their desk but they were still writing in longhand and then typing it into a document.  I suppose it's a little like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.

I might get used to this slightly different way of writing with the Dragon program, and then I might not.  It's like a whole different dimension to the thought and organization process.  Of course, then I had the problem late last night.  I was getting tired, and I started talking to my spouse in sentences with punctuation and formatting commands.  (!!)

This past spring I coached a student who was using dictation software to compose e-mails.  He was getting complaints about his grammar and usage, so I was guiding him on how to speak more effective sentences and to take the time to go back and edit if he needed to.

Regardless of how writing changes, it seems that editing will never change.  You'll always need to at least proofread your work, and even though you can make changes on the computer and do spell checks, that still doesn't substitute for printing out a hard copy to check spacing and the other wordy glitches that happen after you press Save and before you press Print.  And then, just to complicate the issue, once you're familiar with your own work, it's hard to edit a second time because your mind fills in the missing words or errors.

1 comment:

  1. You must be using dragon hot and heavy to be punctuating to the husband. LOL I have Dragon and like it, but somehow I have slipped back into typing. I think it has to do with going out in public more. I can't bring myself to talk to my computer where other people can hear me.

    I am glad to hear the program is working well for you. Have a great day and Write on!