Should You Dictate Your Book? 2 Crucial Questions To Ask

Posted on Jun 5, 2023

Avatar Of Sarah Rexford

Written by Sarah Rexford

Home > Blog > Pre-Writing, Writing > Should You Dictate Your Book? 2 Crucial Questions To Ask

If someone’s ever asked you, “Should you dictate your book” they’re asking a great question. Writers who dictate their books can speed up their process and experience an extremely short turnaround time from idea to finished draft. 

But should you dictate your book? What exactly is book dictation, what pros and cons come with it, and what should you ask yourself before committing to this process? I cover these topics in this post. Let’s get right into it! 

Book Dictation: What Is It?

Book dictation is simply speaking your book rather than typing your book, and using software to do. Rather than sit down at the keyboard and type out every last word of your 80,000 word novel, you can simply speak these words. 

Choosing to dictate your book can be an invaluable choice for your writing career. However, when you choose to dictate your book you embrace a list of both pros and cons. So, should you dictate your book? Let’s discuss positives and negatives so you can have a clearer picture of what book dictation entails. 

Should You Dictate Your Book: Pros And Cons

Like everything, there are positives and negatives tied to the decision to dictate your book. Before naming a few cons, let’s focus on the positives. 

#1 – Takes Strain Off Your Hands

When you dictate your book, you rarely use your keyboard. Rather than act as the foundation of your process, the place where you enter every line and phrase, you simply use your keyboard to set up your document and start your software. 

The rest of your process relies on your voice. Book dictation is a speak-to-text process, after all. If you struggle with carpal tunnel, arthritis, or are simply a slow typist, you may want to consider answering yes to the question, should you dictate your book.

#2 – Speed Up Your Process 

Additionally, most people can speak much faster than they can type. If your brain seems to work more quickly than your fingers, should you dictate your book? It could be a valuable option. Remember, your process should not keep you from your goals. 

If you aim to write 2,500 words a day and have the mental capacity to do so, but you struggle to type that word count, consider changing your process and dictating your book. 

#3 – Puts Strain On You Mentally

When you dictate your book and take the strain off your hands, the strain has to go elsewhere. Think of it this way: If the words aren’t coming through your hands they must come verbally—your brain now needs to keep up with the speed of your dictation. 

If you know the direction your book is taking and can maintain a flow of thought, you will likely thrive in speak-to-text. More on this below.

#4 – Risks Focus And Direction

Even if you are the world’s most dedicated plotter, it’s all too easy to rabbit trail. Think of the last conversation you had and how one thought led to another. One of you finally said, “How did we end up on this topic?”

The major con of dictating your book is the risk of focus. When typing, you can slow down and focus on the sentence you’re working on. When speaking, it’s easy to continue stringing words together and suddenly realize you went off in the wrong direction a chapter back. If this resonates, should you dictate your book? Probably not.

Should You Dictate Your Book? Questions To Help You Decide 

Choosing dictation as a form of writing is a much bigger choice than choosing whether to use Word or Google docs to house your story. To help you identify if you should dictate your book or not, ask yourself the following questions. 

Am I a plotter or a pantser?

If you write to discover the many facets of your characters, you may do better physically typing your book. This method slows you down enough to focus on the scene you are writing and helps you avoid going off in directions that do not move your story forward.

If you plot your book prior to writing (or speaking) your chapters, choosing to dictate your book could be one of the best choices you make for your writing career. Not only will plotting your book help you go in the direction you want, but speaking will also help your unique writing voice shine through. 

Am I writing fiction or nonfiction?

Secondly, identify your genre. If you write fantasy with heavy world-building, typing may be best. This will slow your process and help you to really consider the various layers of the world you are building. 

In addition, if you write fantasy or even science-fiction, the character names and places you create will likely not align with your spell check. Typing will save you time! 

If you write nonfiction, choosing to dictate your book can help your tone. Especially for nonfiction, writers resonate with a natural voice. How you naturally dictate your book will come through in the voice of your final draft. 

Dictation Software Options

If you decide to dictate your book, your next action step is to choose which software to use. There are many options, both free and paid. Below is a short list to help get you started.

  • Google Docs
    • Google docs has a great free option for voice to text. Simply go to TOOLS, click VOICE TYPING, and begin.
  • Microsoft Word
    • If you have Microsoft 365, you also have the free addition of dictation. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection and start speaking. 
  • Pages
    • If you’re more of a Pages person, you still have a free option. Click EDIT and START DICTATION. 
  • Dragon
    • Dragon was initially released in 1997 and is now available in eight languages. A popular speech-to-text software, the more you use Dragon the more it will accurately pick up what you say. 

Whether you choose a paid or free option, choosing to dictate your book can help you get that initial draft down in a fraction of the time it would take typing. 

The Importance Of Finishing Your First Draft

Many people aspire to write a book, but aspiring to write versus completing your first draft are two different feats. If you’re unsure if you should dictate your book, consider the following situation: 

You want to write your book but you have trouble sitting down for long periods to type. In fact, you often write just a few sentences because you spend so much time editing. 

If this is you, I encourage you to try voice-to-text. You can always edit your draft later, but you can’t edit what’s not written. Even if speaking your book results in a draft of different quality than typing it may have, you will have written your book! 

Additionally, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, writers are encouraged to hire professional editors. It’s the editor’s job to take your book from good to great, but they can’t do so if you don’t have a working draft. 

If you struggle to get words down, give yourself a week to try a free dictation software. If you like it, you can always upgrade to a paid option later. 

Regardless of what you choose, remember this: The creative writing process is subjective. Experiment with various options and then go with what works best for and your writing needs. Best wishes with it!

Free Video Training

Write & Launch a Bestselling Book in 90 Days – Even if You Only Have 30 Minutes Per Day!

Learn the exact step-by-step methods you need to cut through the noise, harness the Amazon algorithm, and self-publish your book successfully this year!

Sps Embedded Webinar Form Image V1

Disclosure: Some of the links above may contain affiliate partnerships, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Self-Publishing School may earn a commission if you click through to make a purchase.
Liked this post? Share it with friends!

Interested in working with us?

Book a free strategy call with our expert team!