Dragon NaturallySpeaking – A First Take & Quick Review

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One of the continuing challenges I faced over the years, and particularly so over the last several weeks leading up to the new year, has been trying to find time for my personal writing when more and more of my time was being taken up by other things. Luckily for me, Santa was kind enough to bring me a Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software.

Dragon is better than something like Word’s built-in word recognition because it not only asks you for your language during setup, it also asks you to specify your accent. The downside is it still isn’t omniscient out of the box. Therefore, in order to get it to work fully, you have to take the time to train it so it can adapt to you your dialect and your particular speaking patterns.

There are a few versions of the software: Home, Premium, and a version designed for medical transcription as well as variations that differ by included equipment. Mine came with a corded headset and installation disk, though I understand there are other versions out there with Bluetooth enabled devices for people who prefer to walk and talk.

I have a PC and was somewhat concerned that it wouldn’t support my operating system as it shows only Window 7 and Windows 8 icons on the box, especially when the program took ages upon ages to install. At one point during the installation, I started to wonder if I had missed a step. Maybe in order to get the program to launch, I was supposed to hold the box and walk into a firey pyre like Dany did in Game of Thrones in order to hatch her dragons. However, the installation meter did eventually move forward before it came to that and, at the end, I saw an ‘installation success’ message appear on my screen.

I’ve been playing with mine for a couple of weeks now and it’s getting a little less awkward each day, though I now suspect Her Royal Highness is rolling her eyes behind my back at my hypocrisy considering I always am asking her to tone it down when she talks to herself during the day. In my defense, her barking monologues don’t magically transform into written text on the screen.

Thus far, I haven’t had to add too many words to my dragon’s vocabulary, though I’ve been studying up on how best to train it (there are books on the subject specifically for writers). I can’t decide if it is a compliment regarding enunciation or more praise of the software’s programming. (I’m guessing the latter) That being said, it didn’t recognize the word Megalodon and instead returned ‘medic for all,’ when I said it. You might think this isn’t exactly a word that comes up in daily conversation, however, you don’t know my youngest. It comes up in our house. It comes up a lot.

(It also hasn’t recognized any of my swear words either – not that I use too many of them. Clearly, my dragon is of a genteel nature.)

Based on that experience, I realize that it may be a while before it (and I) am ready to tackle more traditional epic fantasy writing based on character names alone. Even so, I managed to write a full day’s personal word count quota in half the time, which is super promising. That even includes all the times I’ve had to go back and add punctuation manually as remembering to say the word comma or period while dictating isn’t natural for me yet either.

As a result, I am feeling quite good about what I might be able to achieve this year. I might even finish the first draft of book three in my Project Gene Assist series before the weather warms. Who knows?!? But if nothing else, at least know I’m trying.

Now, how about you? Are you trying anything new this year?

24 thoughts on “Dragon NaturallySpeaking – A First Take & Quick Review

  1. Dictation software, eh? Interesting. I’ve never considered anything like that. Sadly, I have no time for personal writing these days it seems, so maybe I should look into it. I’m sure I could train my dragon to recognize a few choice swear words! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The nice thing is that with the premium version, you can supposedly dictate on your phone and have it transcribe your conversation, making it easier to ‘write’ while you aren’t at a computer. However, I haven’t had a chance to try out that feature yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hilarious about the swear words. I had my novel sitting in my brain for two months before I sat down to write it. The problem was that I was having carpal tunnel-like issues and so didn’t want to type. This little puppy wasn’t perfect, like you said, but helped kick-start my writing process, so I’m very grateful I have it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t realize you used it too! I was floored when I saw the word total after a mere thirty minute test. It might even help me cut out my excessive use of commas. Okay, so there’s really little chance of that, but every little bit helps, right?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love my Dragon for so many reasons! I hand write my books, but can ‘read’ them on to my PC in no time at all! It does have hiccups now and then, when it will (deliberately I swear) miss hear me and substitute a word for something ridiculous!
    I have to forgive him his quirks, for he cuts down so much of my workload!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m told voice recognition software does better with higher pitched voices. Mine is not! I gave up using Dragon at work. I spent more time correcting the errors than had I just typed it all to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doubling your word count is a good thing, Allie! I was wondering about the fantasy names and I’m glad you addressed that challenge. I love the idea of this software, but it does make me wonder if it would really work for me – not only the names, but I’m an edit as I go writer. Thanks for the great review though. It’s tantalizing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that nothing can replace the organic process of writing, but one of the other benefits I’ve found is my words are flowing faster ever since I started verbalizing my ideas. It is like my scenes were simply waiting for me to say them out loud to become more real.

      Liked by 1 person

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