A couple of days ago I was at a friends house and he was using a dictation program in order to write on his computer. The program was Dragon naturally speaking 12 and he was using a cheap $19 headset.
My friend is admittedly a bit of a hillbilly. And as I sat there watching him, I was amazed at the incredible accuracy that this software was producing for him. He quickly generated a new user profile and then had me start using the device myself. I quickly rambled off a five minute test and was very near 100 words per minute.
Normally I type and compose new content extremely quickly. Each morning I wake up and I type, with my fingers, a 3000 word article in 50 minutes flat. I push the publish button and then I move on with my day. If you do the math on that this is exactly 60 words per minute. Note that I am actually writing, composing, and planning the content in my mind as I create a new article at this speed. I think quickly while I am typing.
I had assumed in the past that this rate of typing was fast enough for my purposes. But lately I have taken on a few additional projects, and I have to admit that it sounds appealing to nearly double my rate of content creation.
So I took the plunge and I am currently dictating this article into a cheap $20 headset that I got from Walmart, and I am likely averaging about 70 words per minute. I actually set this up about 48 hours ago and so I have not been using it for very long.
There is a learning curve here, but it is a very interesting curve. This is really about becoming a more polished speaker. Not in terms of articulating words, but in being able to think while you are listening to your own voice. I have never been a great public speaker. But I can think very quickly while I am typing on a keyboard. So for me, the learning curve is in learning how to compose my next sentence while I am speaking the current sentence out loud. If I pause while I am dictating then my words per minute does not rise very much above 60. But when I talk freely and quickly without pausing I can get up to 100 words per minute.
It kind of depends on the content that I am creating, and who I am creating it for. For example, I have a new website that I am working on that is not of critical importance to me. So I wanted to push myself to go a little bit quicker on this particular article, and I was able to do 104 words per minute while composing a simple 800 word article. This was complete with separate paragraphs, proper sentence structure, and no spelling errors. However, while this may sound really good, it is definitely not the norm for me. Let me explain.
While I am doing my freelance work (that I actually get paid for), I cannot seem to achieve that same level of speed. Normally I am getting between 65 and 70 words per minute when composing this more important content. And although this sounds better than my typing speed, I am still not sure if it is worth it because of the difference in how you must mentally compose the article as you are writing or dictating it.
What I would like to see in the future is an increase in my speed when I’m creating important, high-level content using dictation. I know for a fact that my typing speed is not going to increase any further than the level it is that now, unless I do significant training or practice exercises. For the last few years I have been typing over 1 million words per year, and my speed is pretty well fixed at 60 words per minute.
What is exciting about Dragon is that I am hitting 65 to 70 words per minute after only using it for two days. So my hope is that I can increase this significantly in the future, and leave the keyboard behind forever.
Another interesting thing to note is that I am more willing to write extra content during the day if I am dictating. In that sense, it seems a little easier than actually typing new articles. I am more willing to do extra work. Although I wonder if this is simply related to having a new gadget and a new method of creating content.
Another interesting thing to note is the difference between creating shorter content versus longer content. I have a bit of burn out when I am dictating and speaking out loud. This is evidenced by the fact that I can easily hit 70 to 100 words per minute on articles that are shorter than 1000 words. But each day I write an article that is a minimum of 3000 words. And I have found so far that on this longer article, the best I can do is 69 words per minute. Again, this is after only two days of using voice dictation.
One other thing to note is that my computer is about five years old. I know that this software loves a fast processor, and will perform even better if you throw additional speed at it. Having dual core or quad core processors, or additional RAM, is not really as important as simply having a really fast CPU. That is my understanding at least. So I am wondering if my speed might increase a little more if I got a faster processor.
So I know you have probably heard all of this before, and read about people who are doing 100 words per minute using voice dictation. So I am just throwing this out there to show you what is realistic to expect if you try to jump on this bandwagon yourself. Even though I type fairly fast to begin with, I can see that using voice dictation might be a quantum leap ahead for me if my speed increases further. Already I can see that my words per minute is slightly faster than typing, but more importantly, I seem to be more willing to produce additional content each day. And perhaps that is the more important breakthrough, even if I do (or do not) eventually reach 100+ words per minute.
What about everyone else here? What is your typing speed, and have you ever considered voice dictation? Or are you using it already, and I am just late to the party?
P.S. As an additional note, I only had to fix about three errors on this article that you are reading now. I only used the training part of the software for a single session, and then I started using it for content creation after that. My understanding is that it continues to learn as you use it. Pretty impressive, really.