Why I No Longer Handwrite

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

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In the last say seven years, and especially since I started using the iPhone and iPad, I haven’t handwritten more than a few pages of writing. In many ways, I probably could be losing my handwriting skills, or at least the patience to write using pen and paper.

I’ve read studies which report that hand writing notes is better for memory than typing. But that’s not the case for me. I write articles, blog posts, emails, and notes on a daily basis. And because I grew up during the time when there were no computers, and only electronic typewriters, I had to handwrite and then type college papers, as well as class and reading notes. I would easily fill up spiral-bound notebooks with copious notes and quotes for various projects. In my office closet, there is a box of 17 paper notebooks that I filled up over the years for journal writing. I’m no stranger to pen and paper, but the day I purchased and started using a large a clunky Brothers word processing computer, that set me off on the road to paperless writing.

For me, paper notebooks are not practical. I used to also keep stenographic notebooks for jotting ideas and lesson plans. But it was always difficult to go back and find particular pieces of notes that I wrote in those notebooks. As the years went by, those notebooks remained archived in a file drawer. Unless I bookmarked pages, finding specific notes was like searching through a garbage dump.

Digital Apps I Use

In this regard, digital apps has made writing and keeping notes a hundred times easier. I use several digital word processors, including Scrivener for longform manuscripts, Day One for journal writing, and several Mac and iOS note apps, including Letterspace, Vesper, OmniOutliner Pro, Evernote, and Drafts. Each of these apps provide quick access to typing, and I can easily manage and locate content using tags and searches.

With digital apps, I’m no longer waisting paper, and my notebooks are with me everywhere I go. I can easily edit my writing, copy and paste content, and even voice dictate words as I’m partially doing now.

While handwriting will always be more personal, it has dozens of disadvantages that make me not too concerned with losing my handwriting abilities. I predict that in the years to come, more and more people will be using voice dictation on digital devices, which in many ways makes for more accurate writing than typing, especially when using applications like Dragon Dictate, which never misspells words, though it does misunderstand dictated words.

Perhaps if I were still in school, I might take handwritten notes, but even in that case I would use Livescribe to digitally process my handwritten notes. I just don’t see the practical use of handwriting anymore, when typing is more efficient.

USB 3-in-1 TableMike for Dragon Dictate

Just wanted to share that I ordered and received yesterday the USB 3-in-1 TableMike Microphone from a company called Speech Recognition Solutions. First off, I must admit that this is a very expensive microphone, at least my budget anyway. The base model costs $279, though the price does include postage and handling. I’ve only been using this mic for less than 24 hours, but so far I am very pleased. As I am dictating this review, I’m actually playing music in the background — not through my headphones. I am experiencing no problems with recognition quality. This improvement alone is almost worth the price of the product. I prefer using Dragon Dictate with a desktop microphone, rather than having to grab a headphone mic in order to do a quick dictation.

Bakari chavanu

Before I ordered the 3-in-1, I tried using the internal mic that is installed at the top of my iMac. The internal works okay, but only at about 70 to 80% recognition performance. I definitely could not play music in the background while using the internal mic. The 3-in-1 is a high sensitive noise canceling microphone, which apparently can separate ambient background noise from voice-recognition.

While the price tag for this device is something I did not look forward to paying, it’s a great investment for me as a writer. Dragon Dictate 3.0 performs much better than previous versions, and now I do all my major writing using dictation. In my numerous tests, I find that Dictate types 3 to 7 times faster than I do. However, the process of having to think about what you’re going to say before you say it can be a little challenging. This is why using Dictate does not always decrease the amount of time it takes to do a piece of writing. However, it does save you trouble of correcting typos and misspellings.

I will report back on the 3-in-1 microphone if I notice any major changes. If you found yourself using Dictate on a regular basis, and you type at the computer for several hours a day, then this microphone may be a good investment for you. It does indeed seem to give a performance boosts to dictation, though of course it can’t solve some of the existing problems Dictate itself. You still have learn how to use the program and deal with its shortcomings.