There are a lot of writing aids out there that “help” you write, or at least make it easier. One such tool is a dictation program called Dragon, Naturally Speaking. My fiancé bought it for me for christmas, ostensibly it was so that I could use it while writing my novels, however, that’s not what this is about. I’ve never used another dictation program so I can’t compare, however, I will review this program as well as several books that are supposed to help with the writing process.
First the pros: This program is easy to set up. You insert the disc, run the program and speak to start the program recognition of your voice patterns (you can set it up to different accents as well, including Indian English). It can be used with a variety of programs including Microsoft Office, the internet, and some versions are compatible with Adobe. It definitely saves the wrists (I have had problems in the past with carpal tunnel syndrome, and this program definitely prevents a recurrence from typing). It’s a good program that you can think and type at the same time.
The cons: While easy to set up, it also takes a long time, during which you first have to make sure it recognizes your microphone, then you have to read a selected passage, sometimes more than once, so that it can register how you say certain things. You need to make sure the microphone is always in the same position when you use it. Because the program can’t read your mind, you have to say all punctuation such as saying “period” at the end of the sentence. It makes things a bit more time-consuming than simply typing that way. Also, every time you use it, it will make mistakes so you have to keep your eye on it and say “correct that” every time it misinterprets what you say, and sometimes it will misinterpret that command as well. It will become better over time, but it takes consistent use. Further it can also slow down your computer if using it with the internet, although that may simply be my slightly outdated computer.
Overall I’ll give this program 4 stars out of 5. While it does have some low points for slowing my computer, I am pretty sure that it’s mostly my computer being old, it’s about six years out of date; if your computer is newer it will run faster. I enjoy using it when I’m on my own usually, I can play music while talking out the problems in my novel rather than having to figure it out in my head only, which seems to me to be the more natural way to work out problems.