Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to be a dictator, and other lies.

I’ve been dictating my novels lately.

And I thought I’d post about it, because one, I have been getting a lot of word count questions, and two, I am about to give you wild, amazing advice for word counts.

Because I arrogantly think I’m brilliant.

And, also, because, I had some questions this week.


Dictation is like running the mile in gym class. You may cough up blood, but it’s good for your health. Supposedly.


Here is how I got faster it dictation, and got better at it.


1.I dictated before I wrote every day. It sucked and I hated it.  I often switched back to typing after a half hour of attempted dictation.


2. I think you’d be an idiot not to dictate with punctuation, whoever recommends that has marbles for brains. Use all your punctuation. You’ll get used to it, but only if you practice. This is like running the mile, it sucks. Get over it.


3. The first problem I encountered with dictation, was that for the first time I could write faster than I could think. I’m a very fast typist, so I was hitting an easy 2500 to 3000 words per hour typed. With dictation, I would run out of thoughts before I had got to them. There were lots of awkward lulls and pauses. In order to combat that I had to outline, which sucked balls. First my outlines were too specific – and then I just completely gave up on working with them because there was no natural flow to my story. But then, sometimes my outlines were not specific enough – my entire scene was the sentence. “Play night game.” I didn’t know what the game was, or why they were playing it, or the plot. But being less specific actually made me much faster, and when I hit the scene that’s not specific enough I just pause take two seconds to adjust, and plan then dictate.


4. They say when you’re top violinist you play hard,  but at such a painful rate that after you practice you often need to nap. I find this to be true with dictation. When I have hit good word counts I often need a nap. If you haven’t worked so hard that you need a nap, you’re probably not working very hard. That’s just the truth.


5. I often dictate with voices, and crazy amounts of enthusiasm. I try to make sure I’m caffeinated, sometimes do jumping jacks first. Get excited – you need to get into the flow state just as you would with writing. Once I stopped micromanaging my dictation, I got way more words on the page. I can dictate seventeen hundred words in ten minutes. And this is only after a month or so of practicing seriously. Say at least three paragraphs at a time before you look it over – if you are looking at your words more often than that, then you’re not dictating you are just waiting and staring at words. You’re not even telling a story – could you imagine if someone was listening to you? They’d be bored to tears. So you must write at least three paragraphs at a time. If any of the dictation is particularly wrong, select the entire sentence and just say it again. It will not only improve your dictation next time – because Dragon is smart and it will learn that it heard you wrong the first time – but it’s also faster than trying to edit one or two words at the time. You want to just select the entire sentence, and restate. Do not do this more than once every three or four paragraphs. I tend to do it at the end of the chapter.


6. When you use lots of voices Dragon have a harder time keeping up. But I do it anyways, because when I go back and edit I can easily fix any transcription errors – but it helps me stay in the story. And staying in the story is 90% of the battle. You should be telling your story like you had children listening, children who are really interested in punctuation, and the story. This is how I’ve improved, and I highly recommend that you keep practicing, work till you’re tired, be enthusiastic, and don’t edit as you go edit at the end.


7.  I hope this was interesting or helpful.


8.  I feel like lists must stop at ten.


9.  See 8.


10.  Yeah, I am pretty amazing, thanks for noticing.