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Would Hemingway use voice?

I’m wondering about a statistic around prolific writers using speech recognition for drafting they’re writing. If you look back to the 60s when the typing pool was a mainstay of corporate America, you’d expect that the speech rate of transcriptionist would be similar to what it is today. Perhaps, it would be slightly behind what’s available today due to issues in the recording quality. However, even if transcription is perfect, would yesterday’s prolific writers they still use it?

My gut reaction is that they probably wouldn’t. Voice dictation is a different exercise then writing and typing. I’ve dictated a few articles, such as this one, and found that I often stammer, take long pauses, or eventually have the speech to text engine detect an endpoint and stop working. For those instances when I am able to get a full sentence out, I end up feeling a bit like I’m sounding like Captain Picard or Kirk when they’re making their captain’s log entry.

In a podcast with Tim Ferriss, Kevin Kelly mentioned that he doesn’t really know what he’s going to write until he starts writing (paraphrasing) and the act of writing is what helps him formulate his thoughts. It’s a bit more cerebral to have to go from head to hand and that neural pathway might generate different thoughts all together. Speaking out an article feels a bit like speech writing.

Speech dictation will still make much sense in environments where using your hands poses a risk or health hazard, such as medical transcription but it won’t likely be the most common form of data entry for writers. The slower more deliberate manual input ends up allowing us to create better prose as opposed to copying the first thing that comes to our lips.

One horror writer I know took two writing literally as in cursive writing on legal pads in order to get the full tactile experience to let his ideas get out of him. Maybe there’s something to that...

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