Nicholson Baker & His Speak-Typing Method

By Jason Boog Comment

In an excellent New York Times Magazine profile of Nicholson Baker this week, the novelist explored his “speak-typing” method. For his last two novels, Baker (pictured, via Elias Baker) has dictated the story out loud–typing as he speaks.

Here’s an example, from the profile: “One of the loveliest scenes in The Anthologist, when Paul Chowder contemplates the moon while sitting outside on a wet plastic lawn chair, was written exactly as the book describes. Baker went outside, dumped a puddle of rainwater from the chair, sat down in his pajamas and began typing on his laptop. The advantage of speak-typing, he explained, is that ‘the words come out differently. The sentences come out simpler, and there’s less of a temptation to go back and add more foliage. I’m trying for a simpler kind of storytelling, and maybe I feel that I did that other stuff and maybe I can’t do that anymore. It may be that a certain kind of writing is not attainable anymore.'”

If you are interested in experimenting with dictation, you might want to download the free Dragon Dictation app for Apple devices. It is a good tool for quickly transcribing dictation. Follow this link to read Baker’s beautiful moon passage in Google Books.