I don’t know about you, but when I write, I often omit words. It sounds great and complete in my mind, but when I look back and see the mistakes, it looks like I’m a bad writer or have a lack of care (especially in emails). Sometimes, I write a passage that I know doesn’t sound right or flow but I am unsure of how to improve it at the given moment. Of course you can’t forget about those spelling mistakes or grammar mishaps.
The solution seems clear … proofread your work! This can be effective and helpful in identifying problem areas; however, there is a big problem with self-proofreading … mental bias. Our brains are really good at filling in the blanks for us and anticipating intent (sometimes correctly and sometimes not). This is especially true for our own work.
Since our brains are biased towards our own writing, I propose a simple hack. Instead of reading your own work yourself … have your computer do it for you!
I do this all the time and it helps me tremendously. I can immediately hear mistakes and omitted words. For those passages that sound awkward, I suddenly am able to come up with new ideas. For those grammar and spelling mistakes, the computer won’t be able to pronounce those words and I’ll be able to identify these areas quickly. I am able to produce a much better product.
I do have one suggestion, close your eyes or look away from the page when the computer is dictating the passage. If you read along, the mental bias I mentioned before could kick in and your brain could optimize the text and you could hear something that is not actually there.
There are websites where you copy text and have it dictated as I am sure they are likely other ways to accomplish this; however, I am going to focus on how to do this in a Mac since it is a built-in feature.
Dictation on Mac
Highlight the passage of text you would like dictated
Right-Click and select speech -> Start Speaking
That’s it! This workflow is supported in most applications.
Go to System Preferences (Apple Icon Upper Left-Hand Corner) -> Speech
On this screen, you can customize the dictation voice and assign a keyboard stroke to trigger dictation.