Driving and Dictating

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My favourite dictation app. Care of tascam.eu.

I seem to be getting a little more comfortable with driving longer distances. Not that I’m ready to become a transport driver, or anything, but being able to sit in the car for several hours at a time is probably not a bad skill at this point my life. I have one child in university in the city that is about two hours away, door-to-door, and, parents that live almost as far away it almost the same direction, plus two more children who will be trying to figure out where they’re headed in the next few years as well. And it will not surprise me in the least if one winds up a couple hours in the opposite direction. Not necessarily to get away from their sibling, although I’m sure that’s a consideration. One of the places she’s looking at is potentially in the same city as the, but the way she’s discussing things so far, it’s not her preferred option.

That’s okay. I can drive.

I have, in the past couple of years, proven I can drive farther, although with a break every couple of hours. I’ve done as much eight hours one day. Actually, I did that twice in a four-day stretch, once to Krikland Lake and once back and, really, it was only eight hours because of those stops every couple of hours, plus a break for lunch.

And, from a completely selfish perspective, if I’m driving by myself, I get to dictate.

The last time I drove to Ottawa on my own, the transcript of my dictations for that trip, there and back, was just over 6000 words. That may not be quite what I would’ve gotten if I’d sat down to type for those four hours, straight, but it’s not too far off.

Well, it is a little far off. Just typing, I expect to get 1500-1800 words in an hour. I’ve found that, on average, I come in at about 40 words a minutes when dictating. 40 words per minute, if I maintain the pace, is about 2400 words per hour. Maintain that whole paces for four hours, and that’s a potential of 9600 on a trip to Ottawa and back.

2400 words per hour: I would actually be really, really happy with that kind of production sitting at the desk. That 1500-1800 works for me, and sometimes, when I’m really focused, it actually works it to be 2000 or touch more. But, now that I think about it, my daily commute covers just a touch more than an hour, and I frequently wind up in the 2600 to 2800 word range in the transcription files. Really, if I start dictating the incident in the car on and stop instantly turned off the other hand, I should get about an hour-four, or five. So 65 minutes times 40 words is about 2600. Right ballpark, sometimes little better. I like that.

I think the issue when typing at the desk is that I have the easy ability to check on something if I feel the need to. Did I name that character Bob or Howard? Were Janine’s eyes blue or green? Is it Mills canyon with or without an apostrophe? And is that really the exact location I wanted to be close to Las Vegas, not the one in the Nevada? Hey, is it anyone’s birthday today? Did my scheduled blog post release at the right time?

With the exception of the last couple, and there are a lot of other things I could put in as examples, if I’m dictating I will just open a bracket [ and dictate a note to check on the spelling or location or eye color or whatever later, and it magically becomes part of the editing process rather than interfering with my first draft. I think that’s probably one most of that stuff anyway. If I didn’t research in advance, frequently because I didn’t know I needed to, or can’t remember what I did with a certain character or certain number or certain anything, those just become the initial, already embedded in the text, comments for the revision notes my process.

(Side note: for reference, because I think it’s been a while since I talked about my process [insert link to the appropriate post here], my basic draft hierarchy before I consider something ready for other eyes is: story dump, find what’s wrong, fix what’s wrong, make it pretty, read it out loud. I don’t consider the “find what’s wrong” phase be a separate draft, although the word count can change, sometimes significantly, depending on the accuracy of the dictation (if any) involved in the first draft. But I’m generally just flagging things to be fixed later and tidying up the easiest transcription stupidities in that phase. I’m not doing anything substantial to the text.

But I keep running back to that 2400 words per hour. That last trip, I didn’t use the whole time on dictating. I spent a big chunk of it listening to a couple of episodes of my favorite podcasts and a couple of chapters worth of an audiobook. The fact that I listen to most things at double the recorded speed doesn’t change the fact that I took away some significant time that I could have used for dictation. It could easily have been a couple of thousand words more. I could have been a couple of thousand words further ahead right now in one project or another.

I’m at the very beginning of another solo drive to Ottawa and I’m going to attempt to use the entire time for dictation this round. I wonder if I can actually break the 10,000 word mark?

Wish me luck.

Be well, everyone.

(Update on the morning of the 12th: the dictation file came in at 12,773 words for a total of 4 hours 38 minutes 27 seconds of dictation. I made a side trip to visit my parents for a while before heading on to the primary destination of my son’s house.)

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Lance
Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.

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