This blog post is going to take me a while, so it’ll probably be shorter than usual. The reason for this is that I am not typing it. Aside from a few corrections which I cannot be bothered to correct using the software, I am writing this entirely using voice recognition software, for the first time in my life.
I spent some time this morning learning to use it. Although I haven’t worked out everything – for example, how do I open things within Internet browsers? -I am gradually getting used to it and it is getting used to me.
I decided to use it after a few pains in my left hand made it difficult to type. I am wary of getting RSI and don’t want to make anything worse, so I immediately looked for alternatives. When editing a novel there are not all that many, so it was a choice between typing one handed, which I attempted, or finding voice software.
I have heard that dragon naturally speaking is the best. I apologise for the lack of capital letters, but the dictation software does not know my voice very well. I also just discovered that it is only able to insert a certain number of lines of text at a time, and when I tried to copy this blog post, it deleted it. Most irritating.
Anyway, I investigated dragon and found that it was out of my range in price. However, I discovered that windows seven came with its own version, and so I immediately began experimenting with it. At the moment, it does not know my voice very well, and so I am required to speak very slowly. This is hard for me, since I talk very fast.
I attempted to use the software to work on editing my novel Watching. Yes, I am editing it again, and it isn’t working brilliantly. Using speech recognition software makes it slower by a long way, because I do not speak clearly and I use a lot of punctuation, neither of which is a good thing when you use dictation software.
I also switch between windows, versions, and email conversations with my editor, so that wasn’t practical either.
However, I never realized before just how difficult it was for writers who due to injury or illness are unable to use keyboards. My respect for people like Terry Pratchett has increased greatly.
He has continued after the point when many others would have given up and for this, I am in awe of him.
Technology has come a long way, but it is still not as intelligent as a personal assistant to whom one dictates. Until it is, many people struggle. I don’t think I can help them, as I am not a technology genius. However, by sharing their problems for one day I am better able to understand the challenges they face.
Have you ever been forced to use voice recognition software? Or have you chosen to do so? If the answer to either of those was yes, what were your experiences?
This blog post has taken a very long time, so I am going to use a keyboard to edit the next chapter of my novel. But I won’t forget what it was like to use this. And I shall persevere until I am able to use this properly.
After all, there are people who have no choice.