Friday, July 29, 2011

Optical character recognition, anyone?

There are, as I've mentioned before, advantages to my habit of writing longer pieces (short stories and novels) by hand. The primary advantage is the lack of distraction.

The Internet is not just a click away when you're writing with a fountain pen on a pad of paper. And I need all the help I can get - *oh, look at the pretty shiny thing!* {sigh}

However, there is a disadvantage. When done with a novel, there are around four full pads of text to, somehow, computerize. Not to worry, where there's a technical problem, there's a technological solution.

And we all know technology won't fail us, yes?

"Yeah, right" I believe is the phrase I'm searching for.

I use a Mac for my writing. Other than for small stuff, I really haven't found the iPad useful for the purpose. And I try not to sweat the small stuff, as they say.

Recently I upgraded to Mac OS Lion. I'm an early adopter, what can I say.

The speech to text software I use to dictate my scribblings...ah well, it's not all that Lion-compatible, is it? There I was, being all "early adopter" and "techie" with my OS Lion and text to speech software. And where did it get me?

Up a gum tree without a paddle - or some such mixed idiom.

I'm actually only three pages short of completing the loading of one of the novels I'm working on. No tragedy. I can type that as easily as dictate it.

Of course, there is the other three pads full of another novel waiting in the wings to be entered. Well, I've enough to be going on with editing the current one. By the time I'm done with that, Dragon Dictate for Mac will have the problem fixed.

Ever hopeful - a requirement when you depend on technology.


  1. Ouch! I write with pad and pencil for the same shiny reasons, but after each chapter I run to the computer and type it up. For me, the advantages are A) having a novel in the first place, as I would never be able to stomach looking at 4 pads of paper and begin to type, and B) I keep my writing in separate chapters, which is much easier to edit than looking at a full document.
    Good luck with the dictation! I don't think I could survive it.

  2. Whenever I write something longhand and then have to type it up, I enjoy it because I see it as hitting two birds with one stone. I'm typing something up and at the same time revising and editing it so it's better.

    I've never had to type up a whole novel though. That would be tedious.


  3. @Laura - Agreed, I couldn't type four pads' worth of text either, hence the speech to text software. With only a few pages left to enter, I'll be able to do the last part typing. Then restructuring and editing, and polishing.

    I don't think I could do it using your approach. I suspect I might get too distracted editing (plus I'm not always sure where the chapter breaks go.)

    @Jai - When I'm working on a short story, I use the typing of it (after writing) as an editing opportunity. On a novel, I'd be forever typing, particularly if I were editing at the same time. I do make small adjustments as I talk at my computer while it types.

    Thank you both for commenting.

  4. This is another one of the reasons I admire you, Kevin - I could never type in that much or have the patience to dictate :)

  5. I always want to write my stories by hand but I find I get bored and then start typing. Besides, I doubt there is a speech recognition program on the planet that could cope with my accent. So ultimate respect to anyone who uses such a workflow!

  6. @Estrella - I couldn't type that much either, hence the involvement of speech to text software. When it works, that is...

    @Icy - I find I get bored (and distracted) when I'm typing anything of any decent length. The software copes pretty well with my voice - and had fits because I gave one of my characters a last name of "Dorofiyenko". It was not happy :D