We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs. The two pigs who built their houses out of straw and sticks saw them get blown down by the big bad wolf, but the third pig that built his house out of bricks was successful in keeping his house intact. The wolf could not blow the sturdy brick house down.
The same is true of court reporting. If you start at the beginning of your studies with a commitment to practice daily with deliberate focus, you will have a solid foundation that will serve as the cornerstone for all the successes and milestones that lie ahead. If, on the other hand, your early efforts are weak or sporadic, your progress will be either delayed or nonexistent, and your “house” will surely fall.
Your journey will be divided into two parts: theory and speedbuilding. Learning your theory comes first, then speedbuilding. Your success in building your speed depends on how well you learn your theory. The National Court Reporters Association certifies reporters at 225 wpm. It is a long road; commit now to master your theory inside and out so you can reach this goal!
Theory involves learning the keyboard, which is comprised of letters and a number bar. Unlike a typewriter, where only one key at a time can be depressed, on the steno machine multiple keys can be hit at the same time. Single keys or multiple keys in different combinations can stand for words, sounds, or phrases. Theory determines which key combinations signify the “shun” ending, for example, or long or short vowel sounds. If you master your theory, you will have the footing necessary to move ahead.
Why is it crucial to master your theory? It is simple: You will not be able to build speed if you hesitate when writing. Your writing must become automatic. When you hear a word, you must be able to immediately strike the correct key or keys to record it. Hesitation will cause you to “drop” words and fall behind. As you strive to increase your speed in the months ahead, if you have trouble recalling your theory or have difficulty implementing it, you will be in the unenviable position of writing poorly and constantly playing catch-up, a losing combination.
If you are to invest the energy, time and money to pursue a career as a court reporter, it is imperative that, from the outset, you learn and review your theory on a daily basis. As you progress from lesson to lesson, make review of your previous lessons part of your routine practice regimen. Strive to write cleanly all the time. Look at your notes or screen for fingering errors and work to correct them immediately. You are embedding words and their respective strokes in your memory bank. Build a strong foundation that will be the base upon which you can build your victories. Good luck!