Why You Should Take Another Look at Mastering Dictation for Your Fiction

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is a master at dictating her novels and novellas. Of her 18 published books, ten were written solely by dictation. This guest post by Sawyer will take you through the benefits she now enjoys in every writing session. 

When authors think about dictation, the first thing that comes to mind is the speed fellow authors are hitting when writing their first drafts.

That’s what drew me to finally master dictation with my own writing. But other benefits are equally as important, especially for me, going into 14 years as a serious writer. Some of these benefits even outweigh the speed.

Let’s examine these four reasons you should take another look at mastering dictation for your writing life.

  1. Dictate for Your Health

The first advantage is taking care of your health as an author.

I’m always on guard for the health of my eyes. Too much time looking at a computer screen makes my eyes do funny things.

That reason alone is why I consume audiobooks in addition to paperbacks and ebooks. Any chance I have to rest my eyes and simply look off into the distance, I want to take advantage of.

Dictating lets me get my eyes off the computer screen when throwing down my first draft.

With dictation, there is also the opportunity to get moving. You can write while you walk. 

Some writers go on long walks to dictate their scenes. I will say that when I’m writing a story, I prefer to sit. Not sitting at my desk, but somewhere that isn’t putting so much pressure on my body. Thankfully, that correlates with my most productive dictation position: When I’m lying in bed or on the couch. My body is totally relaxed and my mind is solely focused on the story.

I know some authors who type their stories while in bed. When I try that, I find that I’m still straining my arms and my neck.

With dictation, I can literally get in the most comfortable position possible and totally relax while I write. 

Overall my body feels less tired after a session of writing by dictation than by typing.

Health has become a greater factor for me than fast first drafts.

  1. Dictate for Your Writing Style

You may find your writing style changes slightly from when you type your story. That can be a good thing. 

You may end up creating more natural-sounding dialogue. And if you speak your first draft, there’s a good chance it will sound more natural and fluid as an audiobook.

People have asked if dictation has changed my writing voice.

Based on feedback from my editors and readers, I’d have to say no. While the sentence structure may vary somewhat from typing, my author voice is still strong because my dictated stories come from the same imagination as my typed stories. 

It’s similar to the concept of writing by hand versus typing. Once your brain is trained in a method of writing, the tool becomes less important. Your imagination is doing the real work. 

  1. Dictate for Time Management

When you’re typing, it’s very difficult to multitask anything else. 

I know some authors who listen to books while they’re writing, watch TV shows, or even have a conversation (as one of my talented friends can do while typing).

But dictation enables you to write in multiple situations: 

  • Grocery shopping
  • Long walks on a hiking trail.
  • Washing dishes.

Dictation lets you squeeze writing into the mundane spaces of life.

  1. Dictate to Become a Better Speaker

Dictation gets you into the practice of speaking your fictional worlds aloud.

That can translate well when you’re doing author interviews, like on a podcast.

You might discover you really enjoy speaking your words. You can use that to create videos and even your own podcast!

In short, the skill of speaking your words opens up doors in terms of marketing yourself as a writer. You practice articulating your thoughts into cohesive sentences before speaking them. That’s a skill you want to have during interviews.

Dictation Can Free You

All of these are reasons I now write my first drafts solely by dictation—ten books and counting.

But if you feel mental, technical, and emotional blocks are holding you back from mastering dictation in your writing life, I want to invite you to my upcoming Dictation Bootcamp for Authors!

This October 2023, I’m hosting the Dictation Bootcamp for Authors. In it, you’ll discover what nearly 100 authors at the last bootcamp did: that dictation can free you.

I only teach this live bootcamp a couple of times a year, so be sure to register now so you don’t miss the thrills of mastering dictation for your writing life.

Come join us here and get started on the journey. 


Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer is an author and digital course creator. Her live event, Dictation Bootcamp for Authors, takes authors through the process of mastering dictation with easy exercises that lead them to become the master of their fictional worlds. The next bootcamp takes place October 2023. Join in at www.fictioncourses.com/dictationbootcamp

Sarah has been featured on Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast, Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Show, Jane Friedman’s blog, and more.

Her signature course, Fiction Writing: American Indians, is equipping authors to write authentic stories that honor Native American history and culture. 

Discover more at www.fictioncourses.com.