Before you actually start dictating, think about these four principles.
Who is going to read your writing, and why are they going to read it? Knowing who is going to read your work will help you craft your words so you can reach your audience in an effective way.
Before you begin writing, ask yourself this question, "Why am I writing this?" By carefully analyzing the purpose of your writing, you will be able to clearly identify what is important for you to communicate. Your goals will become clear, and you can make your best ideas leap out of your sentences and paragraphs.
Everyone has a personality and reflects an image, mood, or a style all his or her own. It is the same with every kind of document you will ever write. Everything you write reflects, to some degree, a personality, a mood, or an image you want to portray. Each document has a distinctive style. It may be technical, serious, humorous, exciting, or low key. You must decide what kind of personality you want to reflect to your readers. What mood, tone, or style do you want to project in your writing?
Always choose an appropriate length for every type of document that you write. Think about your audience. How much are they willing to read about the topic you have chosen? Think about your topic. How many words, paragraphs, or pages are required to adequately discuss it? As a general rule, shorter is better than longer, so unless you are assigned a specific number of words or pages, write only as much as is needed to adequately discuss your topic.
Writing a First Draft
With your outline and notes handy, begin your first draft. At first, you may feel a little uncomfortable talking to the computer, but after some practice, you'll find it easy and natural. Here are some ideas that can help:
- Try to formulate complete phrases and sentences in your head before you dictate them.
- Speak naturally without hesitations or breaks.
- Try not to stop until you reach the end of a phrase or sentence.
- If you make a mistake, it is sometimes best to continue speaking until you reach the end of your thought or idea before making the correction. Some people suggest not making any corrections until you reach the end of a sentence. Still others suggest that you dictate an entire paragraph before going back and correcting mistakes.
- Remember, if you totally goof, you can always select, delete, and repeat the sentence again.
- The main thing is to speak naturally. Let the ideas flow from your brain to the screen.
- Don't forget to put your microphone to sleep if you should be interrupted or if you should need some time to think.
- If you have trouble dictating your words, talk to your computer as if you were talking to a friend. Explain your ideas as if someone were standing there talking to you. This trick can help you overcome any nervous feelings you may have about talking to a machine.
Proofreading and correcting with your voice are the two most important skills you need to learn. You must read your work, find the mistakes, and correct each one of them. Use the correction techniques you have learned in this book to help you train new words. Since most of us use the same words over and over again, the more words you can correct, the more accurate your voice-typing will become in the future.
Don't be afraid to use your mouse and keyboard from time to time. The key is productivity. If your mouse helps, use it. If your keyboard helps you make corrections, use it also. However, beware; if you depend on your mouse and your keyboard extensively, you may never learn some of your software's highly-efficient voice navigation, selection, and correction techniques.
Publishing a Final Draft
Publishing a final draft of your document always feels good. It is great to see your writing in print or on the Web as a Web page. If you can, print a hard copy of your work and proofread it one last time before anyone else gets a chance to read it. If possible, have a friend proof- read your work and make suggestions that can be helpful to you.
Processing What Others Say About Writing
Pay attention as others respond to what you have written. Sometimes their ideas and concerns can be valuable and helpful. At other times, their comments will be off-the-mark. Use constructive feedback to improve your writing in the future.