The results of my experiment of dictating while driving are in and they’re quite interesting. Good thing for all of us that I decided to be an author when I grew up and not a scientist.
Man, I don’t know what was going through my mind when I decided to do this. I mean, I get that it’s a valid way of banking tons of words and it works for a lot of people. It used to work for me all the time.
This time, not so much.
See, what had happened was...
I had a voice recording app on my phone and a headset with a mic. I had a vent clip phone holder that puts the phone within reach but out of the way. And I had 9.5 hours of mindless driving ahead of me.
If you remember, I didn’t download any books or podcasts in preparation for the experiment. So if I didn’t dictate, I’d spend my day hitting ‘scan’ on my car radio as I passed through a thousand small towns.
I made one fatal flaw when preparing for this experiment. Out of my two headsets with microphones that plug into my phone, I brought exactly zero with me.
Turns out, my daughter had taken one with her to Florida on our first trip down. And I, not knowing that, gave her the other before saying goodbye. My other option, the laptop and Dragon software in the passenger seat with my USB headset and mic… didn’t happen because I left it at home for my son to play World of Warcraft.
Super awesome Momming on my part, but terrible authoring.
Still, the show must go on. I decided to dictate without the headset. Using the vent clip at first, I did a few test recordings and heard mostly my air conditioning. So I turned that off and tried again.
It worked in spurts. The closer I got to Florida (the epicenter of the sun) the shorter those spurts would get. Obv.
Later, I decided to hold the phone to my face and dictate that way. I only did this in spurts also, for road safety. Then the phone ended up back on the vent clip and I basically tried to yell.
When it was all said and done, I ended up with nineteen small files averaging 15-20 min each.
Zero of those audio files were clean enough for Dragon to transcribe.
I ended up listening to them and typing them out myself over the next couple days. One great thing came of that, though… silver lining and all. I was able to slightly edit and adjust as I went. So my couple chapters are tighter than they would have been with straight dictation.
Also, I learned a lot about myself:
I sound like the backwoods hick that I am. Dragon needs a hillbilly setting.
I couldn’t stop myself from chomping down on those boiled peanuts while dictating. I had no idea I was doing it at the time, but apparently I was. And I loved them!
I type just as fast as I talk and if this author thing doesn’t pan out, I could totally be a transcriptionist. I had a blast typing… after I got past hearing myself, ugh.
And, even when there’s a massive failure to plan, it doesn’t have to be a total wash. I ended up with nearly 5,000 words. Yeah, I can type faster than that, but I wasn’t going to be typing on my trip to Florida anyway. So, dictating at the same rate is still 5k words farther than I would have gotten.