NaNoWriMo Postmortem: Dictation Delenda Est #NaNoWriMo2018 #amwriting

Dictation must be destroyed.

Who are you, and what have you done with my Act III?

I swear before anything sacred you care to mention: I will never attempt to dictate fiction again. If my hands become too arthritic to write, I’ll just have to give up writing.

There are writers who find that dictation frees their inner creativity better than any form of writing. I’m happy for them. On the other hand, I look at the words I dictated during November—

and I feel no connection to them. Nothing. It’s as if someone else had written them.

It’s not that, as raw words, they suck much worse than any other writing I’ve ever done. They’re just not my words. I don’t connect to them.

My own theory is that it’s because I use a different area of my brain to speak rather than to handwrite or type. A part that isn’t as fluent in English as my fingers. Certainly I can’t speak extemporaneously, and any attempt to engage in spirited intellectual debate comes to a dead stop when my brain refuses to produce a word that my mouth can form. My family are accustomed to thirty-to-sixty second pauses while my brain—which knows darn well what concept it wants to express—struggles to come up with English words in spoken form to express it.

And there those pauses are, on tape.

I hear thirty to sixty seconds of dead air in the middle of a phrase—not at the beginning of a paragraph or the start of a sentence, when I might be planning the writing to come, but in the middle of a freaking phrase I’ve already started—during which my brain must have been desperately scrabbling for verbal sounds to go with an idea I was trying to express. When the words come out, they’re… feeble. I listen and I know they’re wide of the mark. Not only that, but they’re also not what I would have written. The idea was processed by a different system.

I like the words I write much more than the words I dictate. I feel connected to the words I write. Speech, if it has a place in my workflow, will come after I write, pointing out awkward phrasing. It’s a QA tool, not a manufacturing tool.

And yes, I’m still processing the bloody dictation. Dammit.

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