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Monday, August 13, 2012

Using Technology to Work Smarter

by Marcy Collier

A few months ago I got slammed with a bunch of work deadlines for my day job, but I also had about 100 manuscript pages I had to critique. I had just received the new Ipad3 for my birthday and thought that there had to be an app to help me multitask better.

After much research, I splurged and spent the $2.99 to try the Voice Dream Reader. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voice-dream-reader-text-to/id496177674?mt=8.
Incidentally, this app has recently gone up to $ 4.99, which tells me it’s catching on with Apple users. My goal at the time was to be able to listen to someone’s story, while completing other work on my laptop. This app claimed to have dropbox integration and could read MS Word, Plain Text, Apple Pages, MS PowerPoint, RTF and HTML file formats. I downloaded it and with the touch of a button, it opened in Voice Reader. I plugged my headphones into the Ipad and the voice read me the entire story. The app comes with one voice, but you can purchase additional voices for $.99. Every so often, I would pause the reader, make notes in another open document, then move on with the story. This technology enabled me to get the story and critique done while meeting my own non-writing work deadlines. But wait, there’s more…

I started to think about how as writers we’re always told to read our work aloud or have someone else read your work. When you read aloud, you often hear mistakes or realize the cadence and the flow of a particular sentence or structure is not working. I loaded my manuscript onto Voice Dream Reader and went to work. I cannot believe how many changes I’ve made so far just by listening instead of re-reading work. I close my eyes and listen for slow scenes, wrong word choices, typos and the tone and actions of each character. This new revising process has shed a whole new light on my work, and I’m amazed at the number of mistakes I’ve caught by listening rather than reading.

If you have an almost finished manuscript or you critique a lot, check out the Dream Reader. This app was designed to help students and adults with reading difficulties, and busy professionals to catch-up on reading while commuting or exercising. But I think it’s an excellent resource for writers, too. If you’re looking for ways to use technology to work smarter, check it out!

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