Using dictation to write my novels is a GODSEND. I’m able to write faster and remain focused while doing so. More, it’s helped me improve my speech. This video covers all of the software I use to streamline the writing process.

Today I’m giving you an update on my Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 adventure into writerdom and letting you in on some of my biggest writing secrets. 

I’m writing a sequel to Conscript called Cadet.

What’s Conscript, you may ask? My new space adventure that’s like Harry Potter in Space. It’s not out until October, but I’m trying to finish the first two books in the series before I send it out into the world. 

I’m excited to share my journey into space opera with you guys, but currently, I am in the heart of creation, which has its challenges.

How do I find time to work, shop, take care of a house, spend time with family, and breathe? I use dictation, word sprints, and time pockets. Read on if you are curious. 

On dictation

I have been using dictation for 3 years, which is tremendously helpful in making my word count. I have the version of Dragon Speaking Naturally that transcribes mobile dictation. It costs a little bit extra, but it’s worth every single penny. 

I use an app on my phone called Smart Recorder, and I don’t even use a microphone. While it does lower my accuracy level, I still get the gist of what I was trying to say in the scene. Like whenever I say Vega’s name, sometimes it will write Diego? And I have no idea how that translated, but those are the fun parts of dictation. 

Later on, when I go back to edit, I’ll add the extra details and smooth things out. 

Now if you have never tried dictation, I wouldn’t start off trying to do a book. My best suggestion is to start small.

I recommend trying voice-to-dictation with your texts to see how it works. Once you are comfortable and it seems to be picking up your voice, try using the dictation feature on Google Docs. 

Now, Google Docs is nowhere near the accuracy of Dragon Speaking Naturally, but it’s a good trial run. I did some outlining for a short story with Google Docs before I jumped into doing a whole book.

Scott Baker has a book on dictation called How to Train Your Dragon, which discusses how to get started and the software to use. He gets very complicated, and I don’t feel the need to over-complicate it. 

Another tactic I use to reach my word goal is having a flexible outline. Now, I am partly a discovery writer, but I do require some structure or else I’ll be editing for five months. Then the time I spent participating in NaNoWriMo would be moot because I wouldn’t have anything done at the end of the month. 

I found that there’s a delicate balance in having a nice, loose outline, such as, ‘in this scene, I’m going to have Ethan confront Vega concerning XYZ. Make sure you mention the future threat.’ Then, I allow the scene to unfold like a movie in my mind.

Usually, I uncover beautiful story moments, exciting dialogue, and directions that had never crossed my mind. 

Hopefully, someday I won’t have to work a day job and write. But even then, I think I would still use dictation.

Getting words in with sprints (and not the running kind)

Getting words in with sprints (and not the running kind)

And another thing I have been using is micro sprints. Chris Fox discusses sprints in his book 5,000 Words an Hour, which is an excellent read if you are looking to increase your word count.

He does 5-minute sprints. If you turn everything off, like your phone, the internet, cancel all other commitments, and know during this 5 or 10 minutes, all you are gonna do is write. There will be no distractions, no matter what, unless it’s death.

You’ll find, even in those 5 to 10 minutes, that you can get a butt load of words in if you remain focused. Then take a break, and jump back in. 

There’s something called Pomodoros sprints. I actually got a little timer that I put on my computer, which will lock down my internet for let’s say, 15 minutes, so that I’m actually blocked from emails, Facebook, Twitter, and all the regular criminals that pull me from my duty and my destiny. Then, it gives me a 15-minute break. It’s a Google Chrome plugin and it rocks!

Another thing that I didn’t use this year, but have used in the past is Write or Die. While I have the paid version, there is a free version you can test out. 

With Write or Die, you can write in sprints, or you put it on the kamikaze level, which is where they will eat your words unless you are typing. Or you can put it a bit lower, which is my level, where it just turns red and makes a blaring traffic noise if I get distracted. Or you can set it to have virtual spiders run across the screen and play screeching violins when you stop typing. To avoid the buzzer, I just start typing anything. The mental prod helps unlock my subconscious.

When writing, never let spare moments go to waste.

In conclusion

CampNanowrio, for me, was a success this year. I finished with 30,000 words. Due to work and family issues, I had to lower my normal work count. Averaging 1000 words a day with no spare time was good for me. 

How are you doing? Do you do NaNoWriMo? Are you just trying to get some editing done? Are you just trying to think of the idea for your next book? 

Let me know in the comments!

Watch the original video here.

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