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Top Ten Steps to Steno Success

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In a reverent homage to David Letterman, I offer up my Top Ten Steps to Steno Success.

Number 10: Just keep trying.
It's regular and steady effort that wins the steno race. Identify the weaknesses in your writing, and then work to conquer them. Have a daily plan that moves you one day closer to completing your training or meeting your steno goal. Remember that Mount Everest is climbed one step at a time. Make and keep a balanced practice plan. Work it! Even the best of plans will go awry. If you have a "bad day," then jump right back in the very next day. Hold yourself accountable for your progress.

Number 9: Try to determine what is working.
There's no sense in working on what you've already mastered. Find your most accurate speed, and use that as a toehold to build upon. Push outside that "comfort nest." Read and correct your steno errors. Look for error patterns and add them to your hesitation journal. Accuracy is a habit -- develop it. Don't practice errors. Read, read, and read your steno! Circle and correct your errors. Transcribe frequently.

Number 8: Determine what's not working.
If you're stuck on a plateau, change it up. Are you neglecting readback and correction? Do you practice the same way each day and every week? Variety is the spice of steno life. Do you need help with proofreading, vocabulary, or punctuation? If these types of errors are holding you back, now's the time to iron out the wrinkles. Try an online "word-a-day" source to help build your steno and English vocabulary. Dive into your reference sources. Write down the things you're missing so that you don't miss them twice. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Number 7: Find someone who's done it.
Enlist the help of a mentor. Try your state association or an agency in your town to network with people who can truly understand how difficult your training can be. Heed the advice you're offered. Subscribe to student forums. Attend state or national conventions. There are many ways to keep the flame of enthusiasm burning. Avoid negative people and their attitudes which are contagious.

Number 6: Ask for help.
Face the frustration of your training but don't surrender to it. Stay engaged in your own education. If you're currently enrolled as a student, just don't disappear. Set up a time to meet with your instructor to reevaluate your progress and goals. It's difficult to be an objective observer in your own life. Everybody needs a coach.

Number 5: Try again tomorrow.
Persevere. Nothing worthwhile came without struggle. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs but struck out 1,330 times in his baseball career. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store became a success. Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven. His parents thought him "subnormal." Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime. Do your best on every take. Write everything as if it was a test. Treat your practice sessions as a job. You wouldn't be late or a no-show for work! Stick to your practice schedule. Sweat steno!

Number 4: Try it differently.
Adopt a positive, can-do attitude. Prepare yourself to pass! There are no second chances to write a word. Train yourself to get it right on the first take. This habit will carry into your testing situations and serve you well. Do not go back and correct outlines when you're speedbuilding but rather make that part of reading your notes. Grab each word as soon as you hear it, and let it fall from your fingers.

Number 3: Try once more.
Do you have and use a hesitation journal? Are you adding in the briefs and phrases that need to be worked? Put these words into small sentences or phrases and drill on them daily. Speed lives in the mind not the fingers. Know your theory. You can't write faster what you're unsure about . Close up those theory gaps. Read your notes aloud. Think, hear, and breathe steno.

Number 2: Try again.
It ain't a one-stroke word. Don't expect it to be. If you're busy practicing a one-stroke pattern for a 22-word phrase, let it go. A more effective use of your time can be found. The theory you learned will serve you well. Passing an evaluation has more to do with concentration than speed. Focus! Hear and respond to every word. Leave perfection to God. Allow yourself to be human and make mistakes when you write. Chances are, you'll still be able to read a messy outline.

And the number one step to steno success is: (Insert drumroll here.) TRAOEU Practice every day.
On busy days, even drills or a 5-minute take can be beneficial. Plan to succeed and follow that plan. Set realistic goals to work toward. Aim for writing one word faster or one percentage point higher for a take. Progress comes differently to each student. Don't compare yourself to others. Just resolve to do your best -- and then do better! Ask yourself: Is this is a speed bump or a roadblock? Weigh short-term disappointments through the perspective of your long-range goals. Others have done it. You will too!

Alice Skoro is a CCR graduate and Certified Reporting Instructor. She teaches Theory, SH130, and SH220 online courses. Alice currently resides in Las Vegas and admits to having a serious Kindle/iPad addiction. She loves music and aspires to one day learn to play the piano.

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Guest Thursday, 14 November 2019

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