Are you trying to write a modern, groundbreaking novel hoping to bestseller charts? Are you frustrated by now being able to type it as fast as you can imagine it?
The good news is that you can speak your book without needing to type to write the whole thing. Many modern conveniences will allow you to just talk out your ideas and speech-to-text technologies will help you get most of the writing done and leave just edits to finish up.
This article will cover some of the most popular and most accessible to use options available. Many of them you likely already have and do not realize it.
Reasons and Benefits of Speaking Your Book
There are many reasons that you may want to avoid typing your book and are looking for an alternate solution. Maybe you are just unbelievably inaccurate at typing and end up spending longer correcting your mistakes than actually writing new material. There are also plenty of people who have illnesses or disabilities that prevent them from even typing in the first place.
If you are slow but ok at typing, it can be frustrating to have ideas faster than you can type them. It can be easier to capture as you can speak much quicker than you can type. You are less likely to miss getting your ideas down before you forget them.
Using What You Already Own
The good news is that you have the option to speak what you want to write and avoid all the typing issues.
If you have a modern smartphone, you can write a book with speech. You can use your laptop and maybe even your desktop with a little extra purchase. All those have built-in or easy-to-get software that will take what you say and transcribe it into text ready for you to edit and clean up.
Maximize Your Day
Even if you are acceptable at typing and do not mind doing it, you can still benefit from these technologies. All of us have some time during the day when we are doing other things, and many of those times can be used to work on your book a little more.
If you work and travel to work, you can talk to your phone as you commute to and from work to add more writing time. If you drive an hour a day, you just added a whole hour of writing time.
You can do the same while you are waiting while the kids play in the park, while you are doing chores or getting exercise. Double bonus going for a walk and writing while you do it!
Using this speech functionality on your phone with the notepad also allows you to capture ideas on the go so you don’t forget them.
Try thinking about all the occasions you are busy and see if you can maximize your time usage.
Can You Write on a Phone?
Absolutely, you can write on your phone. You likely already know that you can ask your phone to do basic commands like play music, send a text, create a reminder and so on.
Did you realize you can also use the same functionality to write a whole book? Open the notes feature and begin dictating. Make sure to say basic formatting such as a new paragraph to not just get a single large block of text.
You can then send this to your laptop or desktop and just spend time editing. Even if it is not totally accurate, you can generally write a lot more in the same time than you would trying to type the whole thing.
It can be a little tricky at first, but once you have used it a few times, you will get used to how your particular phone and software work, and it will get far more accurate and useful.
If you have an iPhone, you have Siri that you could use. Reviews show that Siri works pretty well, but you do need to speak very clearly and give very specific instructions as with most of the software options. Combining this with a few touchscreen options as you talk can increase your productivity by helping to reduce edits that need to be done later but is not a must.
If you are on Android, you also have a built-in option to dictate, but most reviews seem to indicate that it does not work for dictation as well as Siri but does work for controlling the phone and basic functionality. Fortunately, Google Docs is available on Android, and it has a much better alternative that we will discuss.
Speech to Text Software options
When it comes to Software options, you have quite a lot to choose from, but it depends on what platform you’re using. For example, if you’re using a cell phone, you will likely use the built-in software. It is free making sense to try that first before paying for something.
For an iPhone, it will be Siri, and on Android, you’re probably going to use google voice typing.
Let’s start by comparing free versus purchase options.
On the iPhone, you’re going to use Siri, and the nice thing about Siri is that it’s completely free and fully integrated into your phone. If you have an iPhone, you have Siri. Although it’s not designed to dictate full books, it works very well. You just have to choose the application you will speech your text into.
Your most straightforward option is obviously the notes application, although you can dictate straight into an email, so you are ready to send your text to your main computer you edit on. Many other apps are available that work the same.
Android works very similarly to Siri on the iPhone and is also built into the phone for easy access. There is a small microphone icon on screens with the keyboard that you click and just start talking.
Once again, you can choose what application to use to dictate into. The real difference with Android is it has a much more limited set of commands to control your phone, but this is really not an issue if you are just trying to use voice recognition on your phone to write a book.
Speech notes is a free online service that allows you to dictate right into your browser window. They do have a paid version to get you a few extras, but the free version covers pretty much everything you need. They have an excellent tips section to the right of the text window that you can see while dictating to help you remember additional characters you can add as you dictate.
If you are using Windows, you also have built-in speech recognition. As long as dictation is already enabled, you can just click the Windows key together with the H key, and dictation will start. As this is part of the Windows operating system, you can use this in almost any program running on your computer.
If you have a Mac, you have a very similar feature also called dictation. Enable it by going to the Apple menu, system preferences, choose keyboard and then click dictation to enable.
If you don’t mind spending a bit of money, some really excellent dictation software packages are available that work very well and have been substantially improved over many years. The main one you hear about is Dragon from Nuance.
Dragon Individual \ Professional
This software from Dragon comes in two main versions intended for individuals. They have Dragon Home and Dragon Professional. Dragon Professional is useful if you need more power and plan to do more than just dictation. For example, you can create and edit spreadsheets by voice.
The much cheaper dragon home version will be more than enough for most people. Dragon has a reputation for being extremely accurate, particularly if you spend some time going through the training to help the software recognize how are speak. This can dramatically increase the accuracy, which of course, means less work for you later when you edit.
If you prefer to dictate on your mobile device and want something that works more accurately than the free built-in option such as Siri, Dragon also has a version for your Android or Apple device called Dragon Anywhere.
To help with accuracy, this version also has a training feature to help recognize your voice and how are you speak. Dragon Anywhere is available via subscription instead of a single purchase as with the desktop software. They have a one-week trial, and then you pay a monthly fee.
If you’re interested in this option, I strongly recommend you try the one-week free trial before paying. The free trial will enable you to figure out if Dragon anywhere is worth paying for instead of just using the free built-in options
What Hardware Do I Need?
So, what hardware do you need to be able to speak instead of type your new novel?
If you are using your phone, you are all set and do not have to purchase anything else as it has a built-in microphone. If you have earbuds, they typically also have a mic built-in that can improve the quality and help with accuracy. Compare the two to see what works best for you in different circumstances.
A third option if you are going to be doing this a lot is to purchase an external mic rated for excellent sound. This investment may only worth it if you use it a lot, but there are good options available for a reasonable price.
If you have a laptop, they have a built-in mic, so you are all set and may not need any more hardware. They can be low quality, so if you are dictating anywhere except a quiet place, it may be worth investing in a better mic, such as a headset type that can be placed close to your mouth for better quality.
If you are using a desktop, most of them will not have any kind of mic. You will need to purchase an external one. As you will not be moving your machine, you can use the headset type mic as with the laptop or a far higher quality but larger desktop mic.
There are tons of options beyond the scope of this article, so do some research and take the time to compare them. Make sure to find some ratings and reviews for others who have used the product in a similar circumstance to your planned usage.
Tips to Get the Best Speech to Text Results
Once you have selected your software, there are some other things that you need to keep in mind to get the best out of your dictation.
Let’s discuss a few tips to help you get the best text you can and hopefully reduce some of the frustration of speaking to your phone, especially as a beginner.
Choosing the right mic can have a huge impact, so to briefly review:
Although your phone and laptop have built-in microphones, they are not always suitable for capturing what you’re saying, particularly true on your phone if you’re outdoors or in a noisy environment.
A quick fix for this is to get an external microphone that gives much better sound quality and therefore helps the phone give you a better transcript. Less background noise means the phone will have an easier time turning your voice into text.
If you have earbuds test the built-in microphone. These can often work better than just speaking into your phone, and generally, most people already have them.
If you’re using a desktop that typically does not have a built-in microphone, I highly recommend getting a good quality headset-style microphone that goes over your head and ears with a microphone close to your mouth. They are usually comfortable to wear and get far better quality sound.
Line Up Your Mic
Take a few minutes to line up your microphone correctly for the best results. If it’s not reasonably close to your mouth, it can lead your microphone to pick up more background noise that reduces accuracy.
If you choose a headset style, make sure you don’t put it too close to your mouth, or your breathing can actually be caught by the microphone and turned into gibberish. Do a few tests to get the proper position.
How to Speak
Another important tip is to be careful how you speak. It can feel a little odd at first, but to get accurate transcription, speak slowly and clearly without being too expressive, and it will actually help your device and software provide you with the accurate text of what you said.
Typically if you speak as you would normal conversation when you typically speak at different volumes, hesitate and mumble, the software will have a problem with this. To make it more accurate, make sure you clearly say each word, don’t talk too fast or loudly. The primary advice is just to speak very consistently and clearly.
Practice, and you will soon develop a natural rhythm that works.
No matter how careful you are about how you speak, they will always be mistakes that you need to fix in editing.
You have two choices when it comes to edits. You can either edit as you go or leave the whole editing process for later. As long as you speak clearly, you should have reasonably accurate text that will be easy to edit later. If you find that you get a lot of errors, it may be best to try and edit as you go; otherwise, it can be challenging to remember exactly what you were trying to say.
Editing as you go is obviously far more manageable if you’re using the full version on your desktop or laptop. If you’re doing this on the go on your phone, for example, you are obviously very likely to edit later as it is challenging to do it on a small screen.
Handling Odd Words and Name
If you are writing a technical book or have unusual character names and words, these can cause you many problems and may not be recognized. Be prepared to figure out what odd and random words are supposed to be when you get to the editing stage. This can be more of a challenge if you prefer to edit at a separate time than when you dictate.
One idea to get around this with name is to replace them with very easy-to-say names, words or phrases that are most likely to be correctly transcribed. You can then do a simple copy and replace function to insert your real names and text.
Time for You to Give It a Try
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options for you to write a book without typing the whole thing. Take some time to test multiple options and see what works for you.
You can also use more than one option we have covered to take advantage of all the different locations and spare minutes you have to maximize your workday. This is especially useful if you work full time or are a busy parent (or both!), so you need to grab any time you can to complete your book.