Garonne (garonne) wrote,

writing without typing

About a year ago, I posted about some typing-related problems I'd suddenly developed in my hands and wrists. They didn't go away, and at one point I thought I'd have to give up fic writing altogether.I earn my living in front of a computer, so if I could only spend a few hours a day typing without my wrists seizing up, obviously that had to be at work, not writing fic for fun... Those were depressing times.
I was saved by technology! I discovered that Android tablets, even the cheapest ones, have voice recognition capabilities using the same software engine I posted about here, but with one very important additional feature: being able to edit the text on the go, to correct all the stuff the dictation software gets wrong. I can dictate a fic, and then use a stylus on the touchscreen to fix the punctuation and capitalization, letting my shoulder muscles do all the work and completely doing away with the mouse and keyboard.

I can't help feeling incredibly lucky. As recently as a few years ago, such technology either didn't exist or would have been way out of my price range.

I'm also forced to use US spelling now, which is a bit galling ;) but I suppose I can live with it...

I wasn't a super fast typist, so with this new method I can write almost as fast as before. As proof I submit the 70,000 words I wrote so far this year :D

One interesting side effect is that it's made me think about how I write. Back in the days when the only options were pen and paper or typewriter, the obvious way to do things was to start at the first word and just go straight through to the end, writing complete grammatical sentences all the time. Then I would edit by writing over the text on the same page until the whole thing got too messy and I had to write it out affresh. Obviously I was reluctant to go through too many drafts.

When I switched to a computer I evolved to a whole different style of writing. first sketching out the bare bones of a scene, jumping up and down the page, and only writing full sentences when good ones occurred to me, something like:

back home, fire lit, cozy
"What a scoundrel that fellow is," I cried.
raised eyebrow from Holmes, obviously pretending not to know what I was referring to
frustration, anger, cold words
Watson storms off to bed

Then going over it several times to turn notes into complete sentences, then going over it many more times, polishing a word here and a word there. It's a bit like with a digital camera, where you can take as many shots as you like and you don't have to worry about wasting the film.

Now that I'm using this dictation software, it's not so easy to jump around the page anymore. Also, the software is much better at recognizing complete sentences than isolated words.

Anyone else ever thought about whether technology dictates the way you write?

Tags: technology, writing

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