reviews,  techno-babble,  the writing life

Review: Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking

headsetEver since I began using dictation software, I’ve had a ton of people come to me and ask how I like it. So I figured I should probably review it in my blog, and actually use the dictation software to write the blog post.

So the software I’m using is called Dragon Naturally Speaking. You’ve probably seen commercials for it on television. Just a tip, you can get it cheaper online directly from the manufacturer as opposed to in the store or off the television. Like 25 bucks cheaper.

Now it’s time for a little background information. I don’t use the software because I can’t type or because I’m a slow typist. On the contrary I type about 75 words per minute. The problem is that I was just diagnosed with carpal tunnel and I also have osteoarthritis in my hands. So there are some days were my hands hurt so bad that it hurts to type. This is not a good thing to have wrong with you when you’re a writer, obviously.

In order to keep from having to have surgery my doctor suggested that I get some dictation software. Unfortunately I still have to type at that part-time day job since the software won’t really work there, at which time I have to wear braces to keep my wrists straight.

First let’s talk about the bad things about dictation software. Initially there is a learning curve. You have to learn which commands the software will accept, and how to correct things when it types the wrong thing. You also have to say all of your punctuation, which can be kind of annoying. Initially it will slow you down and you likely will type faster than you dictate. Now for those of you who are looking at dictation software as a way to finish a novel or book that you’ve been thinking about writing, you should absolutely try it, however I contend that it’s just as much work as typing.  Every so often I have to pause and correct what it’s saying. Also, the software doesn’t necessarily make the story flow any better. You either have the book in you or you don’t.

I have not used the software with the onboard computer microphone, though I might try that at some point. Instead I use a headset. The wired headset gives me the best results, and the wireless headset sometimes loses the mic signal if I turned my back to the computer or step 5 feet away from the computer.

Now with writing because you really have to think about what you’re saying you’re still going to pause and think like you would if you were typing. However there are instances I found where the dictation software actually speeds up my productivity. That is answering email, doing readings for people, and typing blog posts like this. Especially when I know almost instinctively what I’m going to say. So it works really well with conversational pieces.

The downside is because I use so many specialized occult terms –  it often spells a lot of things wrong. So when I’m working on Daemonolatry books, I spend more time correcting than actually dictating. So sometimes it’s just faster to type, at which time I’ll put on the braces and type. This is especially true when it comes to demon names or even the word Daemonolatry which this dictation software can’t get right no matter how hard I try. I mean there is a way to do it it just takes time.

On the upside the software does work right out of the box (or right after the download) and it’s actually much better than the dictation software they used to have back in the 90s. The other good thing, obviously, is that my hands feel a lot better these days, even though I’ve only been using the software for about four weeks now.

The other downside to using dictation software is you need a quiet place to use it. If you have roommates or family or whatever, they can’t be bothering you when you’re talking to your computer. It also takes a while to get used to the idea that you are talking aloud to your computer. It took my husband a few times to realize that when I’m talking, I’m not on the phone and I’m not talking to myself, that I’m using the dictation software. He figured it out quickly so I didn’t constantly get, “Who are you talking to?”

Now you’re slow typist then it is very possible that the dictation software will increase your productivity. However if you’re like me and type 75 words per minute it will likely slow you down little bit.

It will also trip up on odd character names or variant spellings of common names. One example is that in Her Demon Lover I have a character named Kris with a K. The software will continually type Chris with a CH. So I have to use the find and replace feature to correct that spelling each and every time. So there are some annoying parts to it, but I don’t really have much of a choice but to use it. That may be the deal breaker for people who do have a choice.

So obviously it does work with WordPress, and it does work with Microsoft products. It also works with Scrivener, but it opens its own text window and you have to continually empty that window into Scrivener.

If there any mistakes in this post, they were mistakes I did not catch as I was dictating this blog post. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.

P.S. It took me about 10 minutes to dictate this 970 word post and about 10 minutes to go back through and edit it. Happy dictating!

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at

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