Revising and Revising
Revisions are probably the hardest part of this whole process for me, and even more so as I changed up my workflow last year. I used to write very “clean” first drafts; I would take three hours to write 250 words because I kept writing those words over and over. I wouldn't move on to the next sentence until I felt that the one I had just written was perfect.
But disabilities are funny, terrible things. I have days where I cannot get out of bed, and despite words clamoring in my head for escape, I cannot sit up long enough to even open my laptop. On days when I have so few spoons, they must be spent on cleaning and chore, and not sitting as a desk. And staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can give me migraines that last for days. A writer that can't look at a computer screen? Yeah...
And then I found Dragon Dictation. I now use Smart Recorder on Android to speak my book. I then send the .wav file to Dragon, and it transcribes it. Boom. I can write 2000 words in no time now and do so while trying to wash my dishes or vacuum or walk Shadow. I can do it from my bed without opening my eyes. I can do it on the couch without sitting up. I wrote the entire second half of Stars and Soil, 50k words, in two weeks using Dragon Dictation (I found a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Pro on Ebay for $50, and a $15 USB CD drive to install it, and the headset it came with is pretty nice!).
The thing is, with dictation, I can't edit as I write, though. I can say “Delete that” or “Scratch That”. But if I want to rewrite a whole paragraph, I have to wait until Dragon has finished transcribing it. Dragon is fairly accurate, and the more I use it, the more accurate it gets. It is truly amazing, not to mention that I can add in all my fantasy character names and it still knows what to do (although many people do use “Alice” when dictating and do a find+replace later for Alice/Alisialianna).
But the mistakes it does make, or the times when I do forget to speak a comma... It has added an additional step to my workflow of “clean up dictation.” Which is more time upright, looking at a PC screen. It has also meant that I have to do a LOT more planning and a lot less pantsing.
My workflow now looks like this:
- I decide which scene(s) I want to dictate
- I write out a paragraph by paragraph outline of how I want the scene to go
- I keep that outline open in Campfire so that I can refer to it as needed
- Open Smart Recorder on Android
- Start Dictating
- When finished, I upload it to OneDrive
- Once uploaded, I open Dragon and import that file
- Dragon Transcribes it into a Word Document
- I sit down and fix the dictation issues, doing some light editing while there
- Let it sit for a day.... or a month..... or six months .... and revise it.
The dictation part has saved me so much time, has made writing so much easier, and made me feel less like a failure since I can write even on my very bad physical health days. But the revision... I am sure in the end it adds up to the same amount of hours spent on a book, dictating or writing by typing, in terms of time spent on the clock doing work. The dictation means that the hours during which I can do the work are more readily available. But gosh, I wrote “The End” so to speak for Stars and Soil in September of last year. The revision process is just not going well. But I am determined to get through it.
This summer has been terrible for my health. I've been in and out of the doctors and hospitals and whatnot because I just keep fainting and getting yet another concussion. I keep running into doctors who think it's “normal” for a 35-year-old woman to faint three times a day! They tell me it's just “part of getting older” as if 35 is old and as if fainting all the time is something that happens to everyone. Having dysautonomia is just... terrible. Do not recommend it. 0/10. I got it after having a terrible case of swine flu in 2009 and it took until just last year for a doctor to even recognize it. But summer is ending, sadly. So my flare ups have decreased and I've been able to get back into revisions!
Something that's been helping, too, is that I started using TickTick to track my day and my tasks. I had been using Habitica as a general to-do list and it was fine, but trying to track where I was in the revision process with each chapter, my various notes-to-self and “remember to check for this!” were all scattered, and I couldn't get a broad look at where I was. And also... Habitica kinda had a Situation. So, about a month ago I migrated most of my stuff to TickTick and started using Diarium as my daily journal and it's helped so much. The mental overhead of keeping track of things is gone, allowing for more time to just REVISE THE DAMN BOOK.
I'm considering making videos about my process of dictation and how I do my project management of my writing. Would you be interested in that?