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Stop trying to make me use voice dictation software to write 2,000 words an hour

There is no digital substitute for a commitment to your craft.

You’ve seen the book covers on Amazon, right?

Books with covers that promise you that, by the time you’ve finished reading (and implementing) the book beyond, you’ll be an organized, efficient, prolific word machine.

The back cover and blurb don’t give any actual hint of what magical system you’ll become privy to within their precious pages.

The reviews are generally vague, but enthusiastic.

What could it be? Does this book contain the Writer-Author Illuminati’s Greatest Secret to Prolificity? Will that switch finally flip, and the stories you’ve been hoping for come flooding out?

No. It’s… voice dictation software.

Sometimes you’ll get a crash course in outlining — which I would argue is infinitely more vital in regards to helping generate a higher word count — but the big sell here is using speech-to-text software.

Voice dictation is not for everyone.

Now, there is a fairly wide variety of situations I can imagine the ability to crank out an obscene amount of words in such a short period of time as being useful.

  • You need to have your book written over the next several days or weeks. This assumes you working against a deadline, possibly with a publisher.
  • You self-publish in a market that requires a constantly updated catalog to maintain presence (one very specific example: “adult” novels on Amazon KDP).
  • You aren’t able to stick with the writing process long enough to complete a manuscript and so are racing against a self imposed expiration date.
  • You want to get your story out before procrastination or boredom causes you to abandon yet another story.
  • You don’t actually enjoy writing and want to get it over with as quickly as possible so you can send your manuscript on to an editor.

It’s a shortcut. Humans love shortcuts

Human nature dictates we find the easiest path between two points. Convenience sells. So does sex. The real question is, why hasn’t somebody invented sexy voice dictation software?

We love learning about new tricks when they come with the promise of cutting down on our time/work investment— and the work involved in completing a novel is nothing short of Herculean.

Churning out thousands of words an hour puts a damper the creative process

You know that feeling when you hit a point in your story when things are humming along, scene descriptions are full and grabbing, and your characters all know exactly what to say?

At what point does that happen for you? During the outlining stage? When you’re in the middle of a first draft? Not until you’re well into the second draft?

Imagine you’re so focused on cranking out as many thousands of words an hour as you can that you end up having to ignore those creative instincts.

Does that sound like fun?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to increasing your word count

Are you hedging your bets by producing a massive draft in hopes of editing it down to something cohesive, coherent, and engaging?

Stephen King once said that he will not work on a book if writing it takes him longer than three months.

J.K. Rowling spent seven years working on Harry Potter.

So… who’s right?

Nobody is right. Or rather, everybody is right. Sorry. That’s not much of an answer.

Is the life changing magic of voice software right for you?

I’m not going to tell you that these promises of sky-high word counts are unattainable or even unreasonable. Okay. They are kind of unreasonable. They’re even attainable — at a cost.

Before you invest in expensive software and peripherals in hopes of drastically increasing your output, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do your thoughts come out more clearly when spoken? Give it a go.
  • Do your thoughts come out more clearly when written? Realize how steep the learning curve may be when transitioning between two very different mediums, especially if you aren’t a verbal storyteller.
  • Are you working with physical limitations that make use of a keyboard and/or monitor difficult? Get you a headset!
  • Are you a verbal storyteller? Do you aspire to be better at verbal storytelling? Give it a go.
  • Are you willing to learn the intricacies of new software and hardware? It will take time before you’re proficient enough with your new method to reach those 5,000 word peaks.
  • Are you being lured in by the promise of a high word count, or the dream of finally finishing that novel? Hoo boy, you need to reevaluate your habits.

There is no substitute for a solid creative habit.

We are so easily lured in by promises of short cuts and quick fixes.

It’s in our nature. It’s cool. That’s just how we are.

But there’s no substitute for a well-developed, cultivated creative habit.

There’s no software that will give you the mindset you need to see an article (or novel) through to completion if you don’t already possess the desire and the discipline.

Cultivate that first. The rest is just a shiny distraction. Once you’ve fully committed* to your craft, then start looking for the right tools to optimize** your workflow***.

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