The Pros and Cons: Writers and Voice Recognition Software

Posted on February 21, 2014


ImageVoice Recognition Software (VRS) has the potential to be a great asset for a writer. Who wouldn’t find lounging on the sofa and letting word flow abound—without pen, paper, or even having to touch the keyboard, mind you—somewhat appealing? The truth is, it sounds very appealing. However, working with the actual software may prove to be a not-so-smooth-experience for the writer who isn’t interested in having to check and recheck communication errors. The benefits and setbacks of the program, then, are well worth some exploration.   

No single person can claim credit for what VRS is today. Back in 1936, Bell Labs, a former division of AT&T, introduced the first electronic speech synthesizer, dubbed the Voder. This new wonder was then presented at the 1939 World Fair, where it initially included a keyboard and foot pedals. Decades later, in 1971, Lawrence Roberts headed a multi-million dollar project for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), in which Speech Understanding Research (SUR) was developed. This computer system had the ability to understand continuous speech.

Advancement in the technology continued to progress. The world came to recognize such players as e-Speaking, Dragon Dictate, VoxCommando, and many more.

The software can be applied in many different facets. For those with disabilities, or for anyone who might find typing at a keyboard strenuous, the VRS is ideal. If spelling is a particular issue, this is certainly something the program has little trouble with, providing the word spoken is understood correctly.

Speed is another great advantage. Combing through a work load that is often composed of numerous files and folders can be made easier, faster. Throw in the added bonus of a more effortless form of multitasking and the VRS begins to look particularly useful. Writers will gravitate to the software for these same reasons.

These programs are easily obtained. A visit to the local Walmart or Best Buy will most likely do the trick. Sites like Amazon and Nuance carry the products as well.

A particular brand of VRS that seems to do fairly well among writers is Dragon, specifically Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The brand boasts about being “the world’s best-selling speech recognition software” and is recommended for writers and bloggers alike.

Now, not everyone is gung ho about VRS. Two main reasons occupy the forefront. In terms of comprehension, some writers have criticized the software’s level of accuracy. The program relies on its ability to identify a user’s speech. If a word is not articulated clearly, the VRS will replace it with one that sounds similar, but, ultimately, is not the word the speaker desires. Writers note instances in which it was necessary to backtrack and edit several whole phrases that, after being transcribed, bore little resemblance to the original thought.

Another issue is privacy. Many writers are fond of working in local cafes or similar venues. Dictating a manuscript to software that needs to distinguish a specific voice in public can be complicated—and probably a little embarrassing as well.    

Perhaps the biggest problem with VRS involves the time it takes for the software to pick up on a user’s speech patterns. In that introductory period, there will be errors.

 The trick to using VRS effectively comes down to patience with the program. Some writers may be up for the challenge of utilizing a new tool; others most probably believe they do enough editing as it is. The choice to use voice recognition software is left to the careful discernment of the writer.



  1. “History of Speech & Voice Recognition and Transcription Software”


  1. “Voice Recognition Software Review” <>  
  2. “Thus Spake the Dragon: How Useful is Speech Recognition Software for Writers/Bloggers?” <>
  3. “Dragon Speech Recognition Software” <>
  4. “Why I Cannot Write a Novel with Voice Recognition Software” <>
  5. “Do Novel Writers Use Speech Recognition Software?” <>
  6. “Problems with Voice Recognition Software” <>

Chelsey Edwards, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing