How You Can Write a Book without Typing a Single Word

Posted on August 18, 2014



Imagine a sharply dressed secret agent at a dinner party activating a button on his watch and speaking into it to give an order to his personal computer assistant. Although it might sound like technology you would see in spy movies, Voice Recognition Software, or VRS, is something we see and use every day. Smartphones, cars, and computers are a few examples of technology that use VRS in daily life.  There are even occupations that regular use this software to dictate reports and documents. People working in scientific research and medicine use VRS to efficiently produce reports, while authors and journalists use it to quickly write down ideas. However, anyone who has used this software knows that mistakes commonly occur during translation. For this reason, companies such as Nuance have developed specialized software, like Dragon, to translate audio into readable text.

              Voice Recognition Software listens to the user’s voice and interprets what is being said. For devices like computers and smartphones, the VRS picks out specific words or phrases to understand the user’s request. If you wanted to tell your friend Mike that you were on the way to his house without typing, you would activate your VRS and say, “Tell Mike, ‘I am on the way to your house.’” The VRS identifies “tell” as the command that is being requested, “Mike” as who is supposed to receive the message, and “I am on the way to your house” as the message that will be sent. Also, most VRS will ask you to confirm the command to help avoid mistakes.

              Although the VRS for a computer can be rather complicated, it can also be rewarding once you understand how to use it. In fact, you can use VRS to operate a computer almost entirely hands-free, including typing a word document. Using VRS to type means that you can write in a word document nearly as fast as you can speak. This makes writing quicker and easier than ever. If you are a horrible typist or your fingers just can’t keep up with you mind, then using VRS on your computer is right for you.

              Despite the advantages of using Voice Recognition Software, there are a few problems that occur for users on a regular basis. Sometimes VRS can have difficulty understanding what is being said. This kind of problem can be distressing, since it forces the user to proofread every document. There is premium software specializing in dictation, but it can be very expensive.

             VRS often ranges from anywhere between $70 and $400, although there are free alternatives, like the software that comes with Windows. Even with the best software, there is no foolproof way to use VRS without having to proofread. However, you can find an editor who will proofread for you.

             Also, VRS requires clear and distinct audio in order to function properly. You must have a good microphone and strong voice; otherwise, it is unlikely the VRS will work well. Further difficulty arises if you use VRS in an environment with a lot of background noise.

            One way to prevent translation errors with VRS is to have a good microphone. Generally, microphones built into a laptop or computer monitor are poor quality, but you can buy a cheap replacement for $15 or $30. It’s worth mentioning that premium software, like Dragon, will typically come with good microphones. Still, unless your microphone filters out background noise, you will have to use your VRS in a quiet space.

            Even if you have the best VRS and microphone, every piece of software will require you to learn the commands it responds to. Learning curves for software vary greatly. The software you choose could be very difficult to learn how to use. Finally, there is a pretty steep learning curve for the user and the software. Similarly, the software itself must adjust to your voice and vocabulary. For example, surnames can be difficult enough to read aloud, but nearly impossible for VRS to interpret unless they are common or already put into the software’s library. The only thing that can remedy that is time and diligence. Almost all VRS will come with a beginner tutorial to get you started, but if you continue to struggle, Google and YouTube are fantastic resources to help solve your problems.

            Voice Recognition Software is continuing to develop, and has made great advances in recent years. VRS has the ability to make writing easier for authors, medical technologists, journalists, and others. While there are problems that exist in the current technology, many will be solved in time. VRS already has a surplus of uses, which will only continue to grow as the technology evolves.

            Personally, VRS is something that I use every day, but not for writing. Although the technology has its benefits, I’m much more confident using a keyboard than my voice to write. If VRS is something you are interested in, I suggest setting up the VRS already installed on your computer before purchasing a premium brand. Once you are sure that VRS is right for you, Dragon is probably your best bet because of its reliability and quality. You can find both the instructions to set up the preinstalled VRS on your computer and some locations where you can purchase Dragon through Google.

Alex Thurman, 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.

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