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Speech to Text

I have this love-hate relationship with my speech-to-text programs.

I've tried several free programs. I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking for the computer. It's expensive, has a lot of commands, and is reasonably easy to navigate. Honestly, most of the free StT programs seem to work as well as the expensive ones.

The free speech to text provided on my phone is more accurate than the free one on my computer. The text I speak into the computer is not always the text that appears on the page.

Sometimes, I just want to shout, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?"

Sometimes, the computer's translations of the words coming out of my mouth are more interesting.

The phone's StT program usually types exactly what I say. Unfortunately, the microphone goes off every time I pause for longer than 5 seconds.

The phone speech to text doesn't recognize commands for quotation marks. In fact, it doesn't recognize any commands other than punctuation and new paragraph. I can't backspace, delete, or insert words when dictating on the phone. I have to stop dictating and manually insert quotation marks, or insert them during editing.

I should not be complaining. It is better to have words to edit, than no words at all on the page. Despite all the flaws, I dictate faster than I type.

There was a time, when I didn't own a typewriter and long before I owned a computer, I wrote everything longhand, with a pen, on paper. I have a friend, L. A. Willis, who still writes first drafts longhand. She says it's more visceral. I don't need to be that primal.

The great thing about dictation is that I can do it while driving, washing dishes, or taking a walk. Of course, the casual observer might think I've lost my frelling mind when they see me talking to myself.

I picked up a good piece of advice today from Michael J Sullivan during his Keystroke Medium interview. He said he wears earbuds, not attached to anything, on his walks. He doesn't dictate. He's just working the problems out, aloud. People assume he's talking on the phone or singing along with the music.

I can take that to the next level and actually dictate through the Bluetooth. If I could find the Bluetooth. Probably in the same place I lost my teeth.

If only I could figure out how to keep the microphone on when I pause to take a breath. I do need to breath. Occasionally, I need to pause and think about what I'm going to say next. I know it's hard to believe I've ever stopped to think about what I was going to say before I said it.

Pushing the mic button may eliminate the crazy lady image and maintain the illusion I am talking on the phone. At least until I start talking in different voices. My characters rarely sound alike.

It's a pain in the arse to keep pushing the button while driving. I suppose I should keep my mind on the road instead of my stories. But the truth is, I've always talked out my story problems while driving.

Speech to text can be a powerful writing tool. Most writers talk faster than they type. Practice can help work out the kinks, and you can even become proficient in time. Lots and lots of time.

I'm still waiting for the program that reads my mind, types what I'm thinking, even when I'm sleeping, and does all the editing for me. Until then, I'll struggle through imperfect speech to text programs, and the hunt and peck typing method, one story at a time.

Keep writing,