Dictation Brain Hacks: Tip #1

S. J. Pajonas February 3, 2016
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As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m really in love with dictation right now. Like IN LOVE, DEEEEEP ABIDING LOVE. Lol. And I haven’t even scratched the surface of it yet. So far, I’m only dictating at home in front of my computer, where I can see my words come up on the screen as I say them. There are other authors doing amazing things with dictation, like going on walks outside and dictating into their phones or dictaphones and getting five thousand words in a short amount of time. Mind blowing stuff.

But since I’m a beginner, I thought I’d share what I’m learning along the way, so my progression becomes evident once I start looking back at my blog posts.

Dictation is all about hacking your brain. Brain hacking is one of my favorite topics. On the Writing Excuses podcast, Howard Taylor often talks about how he hacks his brain to improve his writing process (read the transcripts for some great ideas!) I find his insights fascinating! One example is, when switching projects mid-day, keep your brain dedicated to the new task by changing your writing location. If you write on the right side of the table for your mystery novel in the morning, then write at the left side for your romance novel in the evening. It’s a great idea, and I find that changing my location, from the kitchen table to the treadmill desk does help me concentrate on the work at hand.

Now that you understand what I mean by brain hacking…

Here’s my brain hack tip #1 for dictation.

Read your own work aloud with your microphone on, to Dragon, including punctuation. Get into the rhythm of your own work, from your brain to your mouth. We all have a particular style as authors, a way in which we string together nouns, verbs, articles, conjunctions, etc. that leads to a flavor that’s all our own. Typing that style is not the same as speaking that style, though, at least for beginner-level dictation. You may find that when you start dictation, your storytelling goes all over the place, and that can either lead to your signature style changing (which is not a horrible thing, but could throw off readers) or you giving up because you can’t get it the same.

By reading your own work aloud, including punctuation, you’re training your brain to say the words you usually type. It doesn’t have to be read in a narrator’s voice, and you can pause to get your bearings (Dragon will wait), but you should strive to get 90% or better accuracy by enunciating and letting the words flow.

If you do this for a couple of minutes before each dictation session, it should trick your brain into dictating a smoother output and closer to your usual style. So far, this has been working for me! Try it for yourself and please tell me in the comments how it’s working for you.

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Category: Dictation
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  • It sounds quite difficult to learn yourself to dictate, but I can see how it would be handy once you know how to do it. And that’s a great tip to have your computer read a bit of your own writing to get in the flow of your writing. I think I prefer to type things for now instead of dictating.