Last week we talked about the importance of knowing how many words we write per hour. I’ve heard experienced fiction writers who say they consistently clip along at 2,000 words an hour. They write four or more books a year. This boggles my mind.
In the stratosphere of word counts, I’ve heard other writers claiming to push several thousand words per hour, which they do via dictation and speech-to-text software. In this way, these folks claim to “write” 5,000 words an hour. I’m intrigued, partially as a writer but mostly as a technologist.
What they don’t say is how long they can keep this up. One person does this in bursts, which never approaches an hour, so his 5,000 words in an hour is a misleading outcome. Another admits that an hour is about all he’s good for.
They do say this requires careful prep work, but they don’t factor that time into their speed claims. It also requires cleaning up the recording since the software is only about 95 percent accurate at best. Again they also don’t factor this into their calculations. And, as with all writing, they still have normal re-working, editing, and proofing to do. I wonder how much time they actually save.
This may work fine for writers who have also accomplished speakers, especially if they don’t require much prep work before they talk. Some people are like that; I am not. I also know that clear diction is key. That’s another strike against me. Plus my speaking style is the opposite of my writing style.
In my first contract job, I needed to write an hour-long presentation. Then I would have my presentation videotaped in a studio as I read from a teleprompter. The timeline was short and in an effort to streamline things, I made an outline of my talk and recorded me speaking from my outline. I paid for a transcription. Then I edited it. It required many edits. It seems I rewrote just about every sentence. It took hours. In the studio, I kept stumbling over my written words. I couldn’t speak what I had written.
Though arduous, they must have liked the outcome. They asked me to do a second recording. They wanted me to write it the next morning. We would group edit it over lunch, and I would record it in the afternoon. I still made my flight that evening. In the end, I spent far less time writing and editing my second talk then I spent on my first one where I tried a shortcut using dictation.