NaNoWriMo: Is Dictation Worth a Try?

Hello my fellow NaNo-ers!

I hope everyone had a successful Day 1. I had two writing sessions yesterday and here are my stats:

  • In the morning I wrote 1732 words, with an average of 1022 WPH (words per hour).

  • In the evening I wrote an additional 1480 words, with an average of 1212 WPH. This brought my total to 3212 words for Day 1!

Now, some of you may be wondering why I'm tracking my WPH. To be honest, it wasn't something I had ever really done until yesterday, so it'll be a little harder to compare my prior results to my current ones.

On average, however, I can typically crank out about 2k words in two hours. Now I remember having some really good days where I managed that in just one hour, but I think my average was around there. I have some data saved somewhere on my computer that I'll have to pour over. There might be some more definitive averages, but I think that about does it.

It's important to track your creative output, though. Every successful business has at least one thing in common: they track their success. This is a no-brainer when thinking in business terms, but what about the author entrepreneur? (I'm borrowing this phrase from the wonderful Joanna Penn.) If you're doing any kind of writing, it's important to have a measure of your productivity. Not only will this help with your future works - in terms of estimating how long it will take you to complete your new WIP - but it will help you with your current project.

You've probably heard from many famous and very wise people that you should never compare yourself against others.

I agree with this whole-heartedly. But I think you should compare yourself with your past successes. Applying this to daily word output, you can set goals that you know you're capable of achieving. If you would like to, you can try to outdo your best day's word count. We're all competitive people by nature, so why not use that to your benefit and try to compete with your previous day's work?

I will say, however, that there is only so much writing you can do without losing your mind. Or rather, there's only so much writing you can do without decreasing the quality of your work. I always, always, try to produce work that will end up in my final product. Duh, right? Well this is something I have to remind myself of sometimes. It's important to put words out there, but if they're garbage, and I know they're garbage, I stop right there. I take whatever time it is I need to take to plot out where I actually want the scene to go and then I pick it back up. If I'm in the process of writing and I don't like where the scene is taking me, I quit writing and identify what I don't like about that scene. This can help tremendously down the road when you don't have to spend precious time rewriting those scenes you hated.

Besides the reasons above, I'm also tracking my progress for another reason: I'm attempting dictation this month.

Years ago, a family member happened to have Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking on their computer and I gave it a whirl. Results? Horrible. I hated it. When I happened across the above video on Youtube detailing one author's success with dictation, I rethought my opinions on Dragon. I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that a 3000-3500 WPH average is ah-mazing.

Being the obsessively focused individual that I am (trust me, it's not always a good thing), I immediately researched all of the information that I could find about writers using dictation. And, surprisingly, there wasn't a lot out there. In my attempt to serve the writing community, I'm going to embark on my own journey with dictation and tell the world about my experience.

This is my promise to myself and the world that I will continue to use Dragon for the rest of NaNo.