Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Writers Tools

Friday Poll ~ Writers’ Deadlines

First, the results from last week’s poll—What Writers’ Resources Do You Use? 

Writers' Deadlines

Image Courtesy of Pedro Simao ~

The most voted-on resources were Laptop and Dictionary.

The next most-voted slot was also a two-way tie: Paper & Pen and Internet Search.

Third place was a three-way tie: Thesaurus, Brainstorming, and Active Imagination.

Fourth was Notebook.

Fifth, a two-way tie: Library and Consulting Your Muse.

Sixth, another two-way: Special Software and Post It Notes.

Seventh, three-way: Tablet Computer, Paper & Pencil, and Style Guide.

Eighth, another three-way: Desktop Computer, Mindmaps, and the “Other” space, which had “Randomness” and “artwork, paintings, talking to myself”.

Ninth and last, a two-way tie between Consulting Experts and Travel Research.


Now, for this week’s poll—Writers’ Deadlines.

Naturally, multiple answers are allowed and the “Other” space is available

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Is Voice Recognition Software As Good As They Say It is?

Voice recognition software’s been around for quite awhile now.

Voice Recognition Software

Image Courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert ~

I haven’t tried it yet (except to run a couple Google Searches) but an article on the ALLi blog—Writing: Voice Recognition Software – Is It the Author’s New Best Friend?—peaked my interest.

Even if you’re not a serious writer, give it a read…

I thought I’d do my normal reportorial routine and give you excerpts from my link-out but my Best Friend, Author Jane Watson, has been using voice recognition software for quite awhile and was kind enough to give us this appraisal (the links were added by me, not Jane’s VRS):

“I first tried voice recognition software about 25 years ago. At that time voice recognition was in its infancy and, in my opinion, the programs that were available to individual users then, who did not have a special need (which perhaps qualified them for funded software, costing around $10,000), were very limited, experimental, and hardly worked at all.  I tried to use a program for the Mac called “iListen”. It could have been more appropriately called “I shout at you and you ignore me”. So many frustrated users would raise their voices when they were trying to talk to it, that there was actually an instruction in the manual telling the user that the program would not hear them better if they yelled….

“Then things improved. First with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows and then DragonDictate for the Mac. At this point I began to get results that were nothing short of miraculous. I did not expect a program like this to be able to transcribe a writer’s thoughts, sometimes my sentences were long and convoluted, sometimes they did not follow what I would call conventional syntax, and yet this marvellous piece of software took it mostly in its stride. I had a special page of dictation that I used to test new microphones  – this page described a visit to a country town near where I lived and referred to an incident that had occurred, regarding the loss of a coat. Imagine my astonishment the first time I dictated this passage and DragonDictate was able to immediately recognise the word, Daylesford,  the name of the, not very well known, country town.

“I don’t agree that you cannot use software like this to ‘talk’, i.e. you have to consciously ‘dictate’. It is true that when I first began to voice my writing I found it difficult to relax and feel that I was actually ‘writing’. Initially it seemed odd to voice punctuation such as ‘comma’ or ‘ellipses’, but after a while this became second nature, just as folks once learned to press return on the keyboard instead of pushing the lever on a typewriter. This process of acclimatisation and learned relaxation is very similar to the struggle people had when they moved from the old typewriters to the new word processors. No one ever thought they would be able to write on those either…

“I realised however that I had reached the point where the software had become a tool that could increase my creativity when I did Nanowrimo, which is the insane attempt to write a 50,000 word novel every year in the month of November.  In one month I dictated all 50,000 words into Scrivener, my choice of writing software, and when I reached the end and read through what I had written I realised that what I had written was no better or no worse than what I would have done if I had pounded the keyboard – some was drivel, some seemed to have promise :-)

“In the last couple of years the accuracy of voice recognition software has become even better. It now literally takes hardly more than five minutes to train the software to a standard where it can actually start recognising your voice no matter what accent you use.

“Do I use this program every day? No, but I should. I am still a little hesitant that folks may hear me talking to the computer. But I am going to get over it. It saves an enormous  amount of time and frees me up to think. In fact, I have just dictated these paragraphs whilst relaxing in my armchair.

“Microphone off.”
Jane lives in Australia
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The Noble Typewriter

I was the only boy in my grade school typewriting class.


Image courtesy of andrew eldridge ~

I wish my memory were better so I could determine if I wanted to be a writer way back then…

But, what else is a typewriter for?

Ever use one?

I also used a slide rule for math when I was in nuclear training in the Navy.

I guess I’m on the older side of young :-)

Returning to typewriters, did you know they’d been conceived of as early as 1714—check out this typewriter history page {lots of cool pictures}…

And, you can still buy a typewriter on Amazon :-)

Also, you can convert a typewriter into a keyboard for your computer.

From the site: “Our USB Typewriter circuitry can transform your old manual typewriter into a retro-futuristic marvel. Use a gorgeous vintage typewriter as the computer keyboard for your Mac or PC, or type with ink-on-paper while electronically recording your keystrokes! The USB Typewriter also makes an outstanding keyboard dock for your iPad or tablet PC.”

Plus, from a fascinating historical piece in The New Yorker, there’s this:

“Many of the early inventors of the typewriter thought that what they were inventing was a prosthetic device for the blind. Why would ordinary writers need a writing machine? They had pens.”

I’ll leave you to contemplate this obsolescent technology with a video of some very modern kids confronting a typewriter :-)

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13 Awesome Writers’ Resources

Lots of people visit blogs but not all of them dig deep into past posts.

Things like the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar can definitely help but it still means looking through lots of posts

Using the Search Box in the upper right corner can help, too, and you get to choose the words; but, again, there all those posts to read.

Of course, I try to write posts that are interesting to read but why not pull the resource links into one post?

OK, thanks, I think I’ll do that :-)

I won’t be pulling all the links from all the posts though, ’cause searching can have its own benefits

Check these out:

Writing Links & Links for Writers ~ Writers’ Resources on The Web and More

Great Writers Inspire ~ Learning from The Past

Free Software for Writers

The Elements of Style

Common Errors in English Usage

How to Use English Punctuation Correctly

Article Formatter

20 Ways to Kill Your Writer’s Block Forever

Writing And Publishing Resources

Story-Language Software

Easy Street Prompts

Visual Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Prompts

Also, scrolling down the left side-bar will expose you to a few more Awesome Writing Resources

I’d love it if you share some of your favorite Writing Resources in the Comments :-)
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