Pattern Writing

In a recent discussion with a new reporter, I was asked what I did with medications. I thought about it, and I brought up a recent example where I had to write Haldol. Sure enough, I wrote it out the first time. Before long, I was doing what I call halves. I just split the word in half, HAL, and J-defined it.

While not necessarily the best way to deal with writing, it’s certainly a resourceful way, and something that I find fairly common among reporters. During my internship almost a decade ago, the reporter explained he uses final Z for anything that ends in that Z-ish sound, even words I might have used final S for, like “says.” I find myself coming up with all sorts of rules for my writing. I tag Z at the end for “self suffix” words, PHAOEUZ becomes myself. HERZ, HEUPLZ, THEPLZ, OURZ. There’s a pattern. There’s a rule. It’s a made-up rule, but it stops hesitation, and I get the words every time.

Why is this useful? Why am I sharing it? Many students and new people get caught up in the quest to brief it all. Briefs have their place and there’s no denying that briefs are useful. But pattern writing can carry the day because it can reduce your hesitation on things you’ve never briefed or even heard before. For example, if you tuck an asterisk into certain groupings of words, or tuck your G in to get that -ing ending (WAEUGT), or tuck the AE in to note apostrophes sometimes (TAES, it’s), the words themselves need not be remembered, specific briefs need not be thought of, because you’re handling groups of words similarly.

The stenotype is all about muscle memory and repetition. So if you haven’t started creating patterns and ways to handle specific word groups, give it a shot, get things you do in two strokes down to one and three strokes down to two, it just might pass your next test.

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