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Re: Just out of Theory

Hello Danielle,

You are around the speed of the students who will be entering my class in July. By the time that they leave in September, they will be writing 60, 80 or above.

They won't know all of the words by then, and some of the more difficult letter combinations will still be pretty slow.

I give them this advice: If you have trouble with a word because it is hard to finger the correct stroke, then you just need more practice.

If you have trouble because you have a hard time sounding out the word, then you just need more practice.

But if you have trouble because you don't know how to write the stroke, then you absolutely must immediately stop and hit the theory books.

If you simply don't know the brief or phrase, that is not a critical thing. Many reporters don't use shortcuts, and those who do use them do not learn all of them at once.

It takes time to learn briefs and phrases and the harder strokes, and all of the soundalikes and conflicts. That is a lot to remember all at once.

But you absolutely must be able to write out all words phonetically.

You are at the very beginning of your climb up the speed ladder. If you were to enter my class in July, my only requirement is that you can write clearly. After that, our "speedbuilding" is really focused on removing hesitation. Hesitation is caused by many things, but one of the big reasons is phonetically writing the big words.

I have touched on that subject a couple of times in my blog on Here is one of the first things that I recommend.

Hard copy drill: I can't say it enough. If you drill from a magazine or newspaper several good things happen.

1. You will never have to race like crazy to catch up to the darned teacher.

2. Because you will never have to race like crazy to catch up to the darned teacher, you will calm down.

3. Because you will calm down, you will be able to focus on the stroking.

4. And that will give you the only practice that will help you master the goofy words that we must stroke out.

In your class, you will butcher those words over and over because you don't really have time to stop and practice. When it is drill time, it is time to perform.

If you are writing 40 words per minute, you have 1.5 seconds to write the average word. Any more than that, and you are falling behind. And once that happens, you have to scramble to catch up. That's not the best way to practice your outlines.

There are plenty of words that require 4 or more strokes. Those words are bad enough because they require more time and work, but you can't make the situation worse because of a lack of skill with phonetic writing.

So you should accept that you will write a lot of words very slowly.

But you shouldn't accept that you will always write those words slowly.

Each day, you should learn a little more.

One day, you will make it to your goal.

All that I ask is that you practice today.

And remember that every day is today eventually.

Steve Shastay
Steno Rebel

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