The Best Christmas Present EVER: the gadget that gave me back 10 full working days last year…

This year, I wrote just shy of 195 000 thousand words. That might sound like an incredible number of words, but you’d be surprised: add up a whole year of emails, conservation reports, method statements, blog posts, and a novel and you too will see your word total hitting six figures.

Such an incredible number of words would usually take me over 80 hours of typing. Of course, that’s not done all in one go, but I have a fairly average typing speed of around 40 wpm so you can do the maths. Due to an incredibly inspired Christmas present from my husband last year, I wrote the 195k words and saved ten full working days in the process. Did he buy me a magic wand? No, but perhaps the next best thing: a Sony Digital Recorder and Dragon Software . This little duo allowed me to speak all those words directly into the recorder by pressing only one button.

When I attached it to my computer with a little USB cable, it uploaded the file and with the assistance of the Dragon Software – it transcribed the entire audio into text which I cut and pasted into my emails or word documents as needed.

Note taking on site, where I could be up a scaffold or handling chemicals, isn’t easy under normal circumstances, and then I have to return to my desk and start writing up all those scribbled notes that are only partially legible because I didn’t have anything to lean on while I was doing the work. This bit of kit, which was smaller than my mobile phone, meant I could eradicate the bulky notepad, and typing-up nightmare.

Ok, I didn’t write the novel or blogposts on site, but I can still speak many times faster than I could ever type so the audio method was much faster as long as I knew what I wanted to say before I hit the record button.

You might be thinking, but what about editing? Wasn’t the text a mess? Actually, it wasn’t. The spellings were certainly better than mine usually are. Of course, you did need to edit a bit, but I always need to edit the first drafts of my reports and emails anyway so I don’t feel like that part was any slower than usual. This method just did the donkey work.

Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Christmas ,

Lucy