Day 29: How I use Dictation

Today, I was very close to not writing at all. It would have been my first day in #AcWriMo without any writing. The nice graph I have been keeping would have had an empty space. The horror!

I wanted to write. I really did. But writing (as in typing) is an activity that uses all my mental resources. Some people find writing comforting. I do not. It may be my personality (or most likely the whole Dyslexia thing).

And I was already taxed from fixing my code. It is lots of fun. It is also exhausting.

How was I supposed to stay on track my Writing Goals?


I mentioned before that Dictation software is essential for Dyslexic PhD Students. And how it is a challenge for me to use because of my Mexican accent. But today was a dictation day.

How I make the most of Dictation

Preparing to Dictate

1. Enable Dictation.

Depending on your computer or software, you might need to do some setup. On a Mac it is as simple as pressing a button and letting the software install itself.

2. Learn the Commands.

If you want to end up with a document that looks polished, you need to know how to add punctuation marks, capitalize words, go back and delete words, replace phrases, and start new paragraphs.

To accomplish those tasks and more, each dictation software has their own list of commands. Make sure you know the basics. This is the list of commands for Mac dictation.

3. Get your “Writing Voice” Ready.

I talked about developing a writing voice in the Writing with Dyslexia post. Essentially, you don’t want your writing to sound like you are talking. You want it to sound like writing.


1. Document Setup.

When I use dictation, I like to create a brand new document. I usually call it “Dictation Session” with the date and time.

2. Space Setup.

Find a quiet space to dictate. If you need a microphone attachment, get that ready.

3. Writing Setup.

Spend a few minutes thinking about the arguments you are going to make and the flow from one thought to the next. I like to make a few pictures/drawings with my ideas for a particular section of writing. And most importantly, the logic. (This is one of my weaknesses, but I try!).

Dictation Strategy

1. Decide on Document Type.

Is this a first draft? If so, have a general idea of the logic you want to follow. Otherwise, you might end up with a lot of text that is mostly ramblings and thoughts that go nowhere. Use your notes from your writing setup to guide you.

Is this a second draft or editing? If so, make sure you listen to (or read) what you had done before. I recommend highlighting sections in different colors so you can anchor your editing. For example, yellow highlight means rephrase. Blue highlight means typos and grammar. And red highlight means “what were you thinking?”

2. Decide on a System.

It is possible to just talk at your computer for 20 minutes and not have had said anything of substance at all. This is why the writing setup step is so important.

In order to avoid that, I usually dictate in sentences. Each sentence relates to one of my pictures/drawings.

I end up with very long documents full of sentences that are two or three lines long. But it is very easy to trace back to my picture plan and the logic.

3. Follow Your System.

It is very tempting to just talk to the computer. It is very easy to talk and have words appear on paper. But as I’ve cautioned, you could end up with ramblings.

If you follow your system, you can avoid that pitfall an make the most of your dictation.

Get to Work!

Now that you have your prep and your strategy, get to dictating! It is quite liberating!

Now to celebrate Day 20 of #AcWriMo:

I am tracking my progress here.
Join me: 100 Day Challenge Tracking


2 Replies to “Day 29: How I use Dictation”

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