Book Review: Dictate Your Book: How to Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter

Two nights ago, I finish reading a new book, and now, I’m putting what I learned into practice. The book is called Dictate Your Book: How To Write Your Book Faster, Better, and Smarter (Growth Hacking For Storytellers)*, written by Monica Leonelle. So right now as I write this blog post, I am actually speaking to you.

In her book, Dictate Your Book, Leonelle indicates she was writing 900 – 1200 words per hour; however, when she started dictating her speed increased to 4,000 words per hour. I’m interested in having similar results.

This book was a quick read, I finish reading it in one evening. It is roughly 60 pages and is broken up into five chapters.

Why Dictate?

Chapter 1 focused on why you should dictate your book. In this chapter, Leonelle talked about a number of reasons why to dictate your book. A couple of reasons focused on the fact that we now have the technology to do so. While other reasons included providing a redundancy to your sole method for writing… typing. Now, you have a backup method to do it… with your voice. Dictating also allows you to do this as you are doing other things such as doing the laundry or just walking around your office.

One of the significant benefits that I’m seeing from dictating a book even as I’m doing it right now is I am forced to focus on writing and getting my words on paper. When I do this as I’m typing, I instead focus on editing and it slows the process down. Even though this is the first time dictating, I am finding this process more productive.

Will Dictation Work for You?

In Chapter 2, Leonelle asked  the question, “will dictation work for you?” She noted dictation is simply about learning a new skill; over time, you will continuously improve. Right now, As I am writing this by talking to you, I realize I have to build a new skill set. I have to think about the punctuation as I am writing but this is possible.

In her book, Leonelle provided examples of different software that would allow you to do dictation. I purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking based on her recommendation. Unfortunately, I did not get the right version necessary to transcribe audio files. Dragon Naturally Speaking also requires training and I do not have it loaded at work right now. Instead, I am using Google Docs with its voice tool. I’ll talk about this later in another post.

Leonelle offered ways you can train your dictation skills and indicated you should start slowly by creating blog posts and email messages before you start working on your novel. She stressed that you should not focus on your mistakes. Simply work through the mistakes and you can take care of them during the editing process. That’s what I’m doing. I’m taking her advice and working through my dictating mistakes.

Getting Started

In Chapter 3, Leonelle outlined the dictation workflow and equipment needs. She recommended that you use dictation primarily as you are drafting your writing and not necessarily for editing and post-production. Throughout the book, she offered lessons learned. For example, if you make similar mistakes throughout your document, use search and replace to fix it in post-production. As you prepare for the dictation session, she’s talked about using what’s called beats. I have not heard of this before but it’s basically a more detailed outline. Something you can use as talking points.

In this chapter, she also recommended different software and hardware you would need along with other equipment that would help you in your writing process. She even talks about strategies and equipment for mobile recording.

Dictation Tips and Tricks

In Chapter 4, Leonelle focused on dictation tips and tricks. She looked at how to improve your accuracy so that you do not have a lot of editing to do in post-production. She noted the importance of getting out of your chair and moving so you have more confidence and more enthusiasm as you dictate. Additionally, she warned about being in the correct mode in Dragon Naturally Speaking. Ensure you’re in dictation mode rather than command mode. Finally, she addressed frustrations you may experience and how to negotiate those frustrations. Examples include uncommon names or names that often get misspelled. She suggested finding a substitute, and changing it with search and replace. Leonelle recommended keeping a grievance list, a list of your common problems so again, you could rapidly clean them up in post-production search and replace. You could set up a macro based on the grievance list and run that macro after you done writing.

She concluded the book with a frequently asked questions section. Questions she regularly gets asked about dictation. She handled a lot of those questions in the previous chapters.

Summary

For my first major writing session with dictation, I am tremendously happy. In about 10 minutes I “wrote” 1,038 words. Two primary lessons learned were know what you are going to say before you say it and include more punctuation. Other than that, I am happy with how this went. Using the voice dictation tool in Google Docs was tremendously useful.

If you do a lot of writing and are interested in how to be more productive, I would recommend picking up Dictate Your Book. It is a very quick read but you will learn quite a bit. To be successful, you just have to go and try it but the lessons learned in the book will help you be more successful.

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