Have you been stuck at the same speed for way too long? Perhaps you should give some thought to setting goals. Those who set goals have greater success than those who don’t. The process helps you focus. If you set attainable goals, you will experience success more often which will help you stay more motivated over the long term. Setting goals should be a part of your daily mindset. Implementing them will help you get to the finish line faster.
There are two goals you should be working on each day: a speedbuilding goal and a goal for addressing your problem areas.
Regarding speedbuilding, of course your main goal, which is a constant, is to pass your next speed test, but this entails increasing your speed by a whopping 20 wpm at each level. That is a steep hill to climb. Instead of practicing a full five-minute take at 20 wpm over your comfortable writing speed, try breaking it down into five one-minute segments. Make it your goal to tackle a single one-minute segment per day. Try to write it as perfectly as possible. Spend time on the words or sections
that are tripping you up. Don’t accept drops or misstrokes. Don’t give up. Read back every take.
After you master the second minute, try writing the two-minute take perfectly. Then after you master the third minute, try writing the three-minute take perfectly. Make it your goal to write the entire five-minute take without error by the end of the week. Practicing in one-minute increments is less daunting, and success is more readily achievable. Correct muscle memory training comes with this kind of deliberate and consistent practice. Your writing will flow more smoothly from your brain to your fingers, leading to less hesitation and more speed. Be sure to get in as much practice time as possible, two hours a day at a minimum outside of class.
Improving your speed is a must, but you won’t get there if you do not address your problem areas. When you critically examine your writing, your weaknesses will become apparent, and you can develop a game plan to improve. If you don’t read back, you are wasting your time.
Choose a problem area that needs your immediate attention. After that problem is solved, pick another one to work on. Maybe you are having difficulty with numbers (dollars, cents, time, dates); maybe you can’t remember briefs; or maybe homonyms are your nemesis. Whatever the issue, break it down into manageable parts and build from there. Write hints on stickies and put them on your machine for easy reference. This should be an ongoing exercise over the course of your career. Good reporters are constantly looking for ways to fine-tune their skill so they can reduce their untranslate rate. If you are proactive in this area, it will reap huge dividends over time.
If you set achievable goals for speedbuilding and goals for addressing problem areas, you will have a roadmap to success. Setting goals gives purpose to your practice sessions so they will not weigh as heavily on your mind or, more importantly, your spirit. Good luck!