Hidden Secret #3: To Write Faster, Try Voice Recognition

By Gordon Graham | February 20, 2017

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Hidden Secrets for Success

A microphone extending from a laptop screen.

Write faster with voice recognition software on your computer.

I’ve used a secret weapon to write faster for more than 20 years. And I don’t understand why so few copywriters use it. I’m using it now to write this.

I’m talking about voice recognition, otherwise known as speech-to-text. Or as one software company puts it, “You talk, it types.”

To use voice recognition, I wear a headset, talk in a normal voice, and the words appear on my computer screen as though they were typed in by a genie.

Over the years, the software has become remarkably accurate. Today, it recognizes lots of company names, industry terms, and trademarks. Errors are few and far between.

Here’s all the ways voice recognition software helps me write faster:

  1. Input speed: I type about 60 words a minute, but I can speak twice as fast.
  2. No writer’s block: As quickly as the sentences form in my mind, they spill onto the page. And I can easily repeat a thought to phrase it better, then go back and delete the weaker version.
  3. Conversational style: I naturally dictate in a conversational style. So I seldom need to edit that in later.
  4. Hands-free: I love using my hands to sift through a big stack of research. I can pull out a book or report, read the excerpt to insert into Word, then set it aside. That’s much easier than typing in passages from a source balanced on my knees.
  5. Detachment: When I dictate a first draft, it almost seems like someone else wrote it. I find my detachment from the first draft makes it much faster to polish the second draft.
  6. More physical: I grew up in Montreal, where people talk with their hands. I love getting my hands off the keys so I can gesture as I compose. With a wireless headset, I even can pace around my office as I write.

I figure I write first drafts at least 50 percent faster using voice recognition. And this isn’t something off in the future. You can get it and use it today. And then never look back.

Interested in trying it? Here are some tips on getting started.

  1. You can experiment with the basic versions of speech recognition built intoMacOSand Windows. They make lots of errors, but they give you a taste.
  2. For much better results, I find it worthwhile to spend $150 to $300 for the full-fledged versions from industry leader,Nuance. The company has versions for Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows. It won’t take long to pay for itself, as you will save hours of writing time.
  3. Start by dictating low-risk documents, like emails, so you can learn how it feels.
  4. Remember to dictate the punctuation by saying “comma” or “period” when you want one.
  5. Then use voice recognition for creative projects, where you need to get a torrent of words on the page to reshape later.
  6. Learn the basic commands like “Wake up” or “New paragraph” or “Scratch that.”
  7. But don’t get too fiddly. I don’t bother to run my entire computer with my voice. I still click my way around with the mouse.

And after 20+ years of enjoying this “hidden secret,” I won’t ever give up my voice recognition software.

Here’s to talking your way to copywriting success!

Bonus tip: Have your computer read your drafts to you

Any copywriter can benefit from listening to drafts read aloud. The trouble is, most of us don’t have anyone who will do that any time of day or night! So why not use your computer?

On the Mac, select any text, then click Ctrl+T to hear your text read aloud.

In Windows, use a combination of Word and Acrobat Reader, the free version.

  1. In Word, save your file as a PDF. Select File > Save As … and select .PDF file format, then click OK.
  2. In Acrobat Reader, open your new PDF.
  3. Move the cursor to the paragraph you want to hear and press Ctrl+Shift+Y all at once.

Whenever I hear my draft read out loud, I always find things to fix. Try it yourself and see how it helps your writing!

This article is part the series: Hidden Secrets for Success