Thursday, October 13, 2011

How do you decide whether to dictate, type out or hand-write a piece of writing?

How do you decide whether to dictate, type out or hand-write a piece of writing?

I have always had a minor passion for writing, and I enjoy the process of settings ideas out and slowly filling them out, trimming them down or deleting them altogether. This is easiest to do on a computer - so easy to cut, copy paste, organise, Google and re-write. Being able to touch type makes this process an almost organic extension of my consciousness.

Hand writing is a different sort of pleasure. I used to get lost in handwriting in a similar way, but often I felt like my thinking slows down to match my hand-writing speed. I would re-write and draw lines to indicate which bit is meant to go in between which other bits. It was hard to transcribe my writing, but fulfilling because it was a conscious editing step.

In the last decade, the only hand-writing I do now is writing meeting notes at work - but even then I love organising the notes as I go, and doodling! Building up small doodles to fill a page feels good too.

Now I have an iPad with a keyboard case that feels comfortable to use for short periods; I can almost thumb-touch type on my iPhone without looking at the keys.. I can easily spend the entire train trip home just writing out a message or blog post. And drawing apps make me feel like an artist, even though I blanch at every creation. :)

And then I discovered Dragon Dictation on my iPhone - and how it gets about 70% of my words correct.. mangling names but getting the bulk of it right. I find myself stopping and starting a lot - both when I type and when I dictate into my phone. But during dictation, the pauses seem more pregnant, more expectant and I find myself stressing out at being unable to immediately go back and change a word or fix up a capitalisation. I can get out short bursts a lot faster only if I am "on track".

And with Dragon Dictation on the phone - every time you hit "stop" you have to wait while it sends the audio up to the server for translation before giving you back the text, which I feel compelled to edit before going on. But at the same time I wouldn't like to use a recorder, because I find the process of transcribing audio to be far too odious, and lacking the potential of being a true editing step because you have to focus on just typing out what you are hearing.

They have such different characteristics. I love hand-writing but prefer typing.. I feel that dictation should be the fastest but can't get into the flow. Which do you find better?

I posted this first on \ as Handwriting vs typing vs speaking, but I enjoyed writing it so much that I posted it here too!

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