I spend a good deal of time interacting with self-learners and some new students. One thing that new people often struggle with is the switch from QWERTY-style typing to our stenotype keyboard. What do I mean?
Picture this. How many times on a regular keyboard have you typed something quickly, only to realize it is wrong? Backspace, backspace, backspace, fix! This habit is ingrained in pretty much anyone that has been raised typing on a computer. That’s what we do. It doesn’t make sense to do it another way because you’d have to go back and fix it later anyway.
Well, all that changes when it’s time to do steno. In the early days, we must learn to let go and just get the take. Perhaps captioners will disagree, but I feel it strongly hampers a person’s natural progression, early on, to be using the asterisk to correct every little messed up keystroke. In the beginning, put an emphasis on reading through your mistakes. But correcting them on your tests or in your practice takes will likely take time away from creating the muscle memory you need to succeed.
All of this is said with one caution: If you notice a serious problem with a group of words, you need to practice out that problem. Create a finger drill. Reach out to a mentor. Talk to your teachers. Heck, reach out to me. You don’t want to end up a professional reporter who drags their S into every stroke or something semi-critical like that.
Another thing: Do not be surprised if someone disagrees with what I have to say. In the stenographic learning process there tends to be two schools of thought. There is speed, and there is accuracy. There are, in fact, people who believe that accuracy is paramount and you cannot advance in speed without accuracy. My own experience is that with speed comes accuracy. If you can stroke out a sloppy 240, you can probably jam out a neat 180 or 200, and a passing 225. I have had failing tests turn to a pass because I sat down with my notes and really looked at what I had.
A mentor outside the stenographic field once told me, “your hesitation is what kills you.” When it came to steno school, I took that to heart, I stopped hesitating. I urge every student to do the same so that you can get out of school, make some money, and change some lives in this wonderful field.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my old assorted tips for students.