V is for Voice Recognition


Number 22 in The A to Z of the Writer’s Affliction, part of the A to Z blogging challenge.

Perhaps this isn’t an affliction, or not for everyone. I dare say some writers have secretaries they dictate to, maybe even ghostwriters to do the whole book for them. And many, no doubt, type directly on the laptop. But I write it all longhand with whatever pen and notebook I can find. And when the notebook’s full of scribbles and arrows and passages I can’t decipher, I decide it needs typing out. And there’s the hassle – all that time typing what’s already written. When I could be writing something new.

So I tried speed typing. The problem there is that I only use four fongers and if I go really quickjlt I sart making lofasd o f mistekes and then I spend more time cottecting them than if I juts took the tuime to tupe it propoperly in the frts palcze.

So I thought of voice recognition. I was going to download some software when I discovered it’s built into Windows. Setting it up meant switching the keyboard language from French to English, which took me a while to figure out, and at first was counterproductive. The keyboard layout is French (azerty), so if it gets szitched to English (qwerty) it stqrts ;qking qll sorts of ridiculous ;istqkes thqt zould then tqke hours to correct.

But eventually, I had it so that the keyboard input was azerty but the voice recognition was in English. All set to go! And on the whole, the result is satisfactory. Ok, there’s rarely a sentence I don’t have to go over again to make a couple of corrections, but I still save a lot of time, and it’s far more relaxing on the wrists. Furthermore, it occasionally throws up some wonderful interpretations. When he was into his ‘automatic writing’ obsession, Kerouac had a high regard for typos, which he saw as part of the unfiltered thought process bubbling up from his subconscious. I think he’d have had a field day with the voice recognition. Just a few examples:

dwindling energy => two in the lane energy

ease and glamour => peas and glamour

mushrooms on the bank => Russians on the bank

clothes scattered on the bed => clones scattered on the bed

brazen defiance of authority => brazen defiance of all charity

From something as boring as clothes on the bed, I’m plunged into a nightmare. Although maybe the clones are friendly, they’ve just come round for a cup of tea and a chat. Are they the same as the Russians on the bank? Hmm… And how do I fit in the peas and glamour? I thought I knew where I was going with this, but Windows has other ideas…

Another thing you can do is plug the microphone into the listening rather than recording socket, which impairs the software’s hearing by 50% in one fell swoop. So the first paragraph of this post then reads:

The sizzle and affection for everyone. I dare say some writers are separate resented thing to, maybe even her site has to do the whole of them. And many, no doubt, ten directly on the laptop. But I voted along and with whatever came amid the eye can find. And when the man who was first rule was in their OS and the city is it comes to sign her, and decided it needs to announce. That in this ISO – all that time typing once already written. When I could be writing something you.

I don’t know about Kerouac, but I’m pretty sure that’s how James Joyce wrote Finnegan’s Wake.



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  1. Haha… I think I’ve read books that make as much sense as that last paragraph!
    Oh and you want to try voice recognition when you have a Scottish accent…. Impossible!!

  2. Aniway… me muny mistaques as welll… onli fur finggers… hejejejej…
    The voice recongnition… quite difficult as well, years ago I worked as a secretary and I had to type from “whateveritsnameis”,,, and sometimes I wrote what I thought, the speakers wanted to mean!!!
    And… you work a lot, you’ve already arrived to letter “V”!!!!!! V for Victory!!!!!!!!

  3. Nice find. (How Finnegan’s Wake was written). In his book “Junky”, Burroughs suggesting constructing new text by reading across newspaper columns. He said “it often makes as much sense as the original”.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yes, I think I remember the Burroughs from long ago. The surrealists used similar techniques too. And partly it’s what makes for great poetry, I think – the ability to rearrange words in your mind, come up with striking combinations.

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