Ok. I am an avid Mac user. My entire workflow is dependent on features in MacOS not found in Windows, such as tags and the integration with my iOS devices. One part of my workflow is PC-dependent, however.
I use Nuance Dragon Professional 15 to dictate. It is faster than typing and doesn’t cause my hands any pain after a several hour session. However, it is PC only and it doesn’t integrate well with Scrivener for PC. I know. I tried repeatedly. The lack of editing features when dictating directly into the app is a pain in the caboose.
Well, for some time I have been dictating on one computer, copying it to the other, and then using Scrivener and various other tools to get the job done. It wasn’t a very pretty setup, to say the least. But it worked. Sadly, I had to use OpenOffice (yes, the older and less loved cousin to LibreOffice) for the dictation since it was free and supported by Dragon. I am not going to spend good money just to have a word count when I am dictating. A moot point, considering what I am doing now…
The built-in dictation platform on the Mac doesn’t really work for me with regards to both my fiction and digital marketing work. Not being able to create separate dictionaries or add/remove custom verbiage easily is a pain in the neck.
I wanted a way to get the benefits of the dictation software without having to actually use Windows. I found that Dragon Professional allows you to transcribe recordings - so I figured why not give it a shot?
The recordings went perfectly, with the output being easily editable and integrated with Scrivener. The transcription tool even allows me to have audio recordings dumped into, say, a Google Drive folder and have the output automagically put into another folder. All without the PC being connected to a keyboard, mouse, or monitor.
So I started doing that and hit my next road block - integrating the transcribed copy into Scrivener. I wanted to be able to just launch Scrivener and get to work, regardless of the project I am dealing with.
We all know how finicky Scrivener can be when integrating material generated by a third-party tool. Even if the documents are simple RTF files with no formatting or graphics. (Which is the case here.) The problem is that I could be dealing with several projects at once and would have to spend time fixing wherever the transcriptions where dumped. At least that is what I thought.
This is the ultimate case of “Read The Manual” I have encountered.
Scratchpad could be set to the output folder, allowing me to review, edit, and send the transcribed text to any project I want. And it seamlessly fit into my workflow.
So Scratchpad is now serving as the linchpin to my dictation/transcription setup and is saving me at least an hour per week in busy work!
Note - I am skipping the saga that was getting recordings from Voice Memo to be automatically copied to Google Drive. Here is a hint - Automator. That is nearly a week of my life I am not getting back!
Now, if you noticed I mentioned the need to have a word count up while dictating. It is an essential bit for my marketing work. Thankfully, after factoring in punctuation, I dictate roughly 180 words per minute. (~200 including punctuation.) So I just look at the time spent and can quickly figure out roughly where I am in the project.
A fringe benefit is that I am now able to dictate on the go. I just load the Voice Memo app on my iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch and speak to my heart’s content. When I get home it is waiting for me in Scratchpad.
It is not as seamless as dictating directly into Scrivener, but it does open up possibilities I hadn’t considered before. For instance, I can get an email from a client overnight requesting a quick blogpost based on something I am familiar with. I can dictate the blog on my phone while reading my email on the tablet while still in bed - as long as I am quiet about it! No more getting up and heading down the hallway to my home office just to spend twenty minutes getting something ready for when I “clock in” at nine!