Guest blog from Rachel Williams, professional copywriter.
In a Sochi-inspired moment I recently arranged a trip to our local ice skating rink. Call it a desire to be Jayne Torvill just for a little while (yep, that magical Bolero routine of 30 years ago still has me hooked), call it something to do on a grotty Sunday afternoon, it was something we were all looking forward to.
I even managed to impress my eldest (“You’re actually really good, Mum,” spoken in a slight incredulous way!). That’s how much fun I was having, so much so that at the end of the session I decided to scoot round just one last time. And that’s when I fell. I still have no idea how it happened. One minute I was gliding along, the next I was on my backside with a member of staff asking if I was okay. Naturally, I insisted I was fine and carried on to complete that last lap. And then got my boots off. And then helped the kids with theirs. But finally I had to come clean and admit that there was something very wrong with my wrist.
So I spent the obligatory 3-4 hours in A&E and returned home in plaster, having been told I’d broken my right wrist. Not the best news for a copywriter – I had successfully damaged one of the two key tools of my trade! My reaction was to panic, so thank goodness that Sarah took me in hand (pardon the pun!) and told me about Dragon Dictate, a free voice recognition app that turns speech to text. It meant that in my darkest hour – no matter how cheerfully bright the red of my plaster was – I could still get work out, if somewhat slower than usual.
I’ve never tried any form of dictation before, and it does feel weird talking to yourself, but I can understand why this app gets such good user reviews. Once it’s on your phone it’s simply a case of speaking clearly and the text then appears in an editable form. You can then post directly to Twitter or Facebook or send the text as an email, which is what I do. Typing is therefore minimised and I just have to edit here and there. The only drawback I’ve discovered is that to write an article of about 500 words takes about five emails (but a lot of that is me getting tongue tied!) and some glorious mis-translation – I think that ‘for anyone who is out and about and gets ideas on the moon’ was meant to be ‘on the move’! And it is. The link to social media is great and if you do get thoughts and ideas you can quickly chat into your phone, email it and revisit that thought later when it’s more convenient.
Dragon Dictate can also be purchased and installed on Macs, and there are several different languages and packages available. Maybe I should have bought the healthcare version, then I could wax lyrical about complex non-displaced distal radius fractures!
So Dragon Dictate has allowed me to continue working and I’m now concentrating on healing in time for skiing. Still inspired by Sochi (who saw Team GB’s James ‘Woodsy’ Woods performing in the Men’s Ski Slopestyle despite a hip injury, or Germany’s Amelie Kober take the bronze medal in the Women’s parallel Slalom whilst carrying what looked like a very painful elbow injury!) I am determined that I will still enjoy the white stuff. And this year I’ll be able to capture all those snippets of stories and poems that come into my head while I’m out on the slopes – not to mention posting messages on Facebook to friends back home – thanks to some very nifty software.