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How I Learned Realtime Has Its Place

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An Interview with Angel McCullough, By: Sarah Hamilton

 

Angel CCRNow that I am in the Case CATaylst class and am getting into higher speeds, I am finding myself worrying about my realtime. I read and hear a lot of things about how important it is when you begin working, and I wanted to be prepared for it as soon as I graduate. I even started using realtime during speedbuilding classes. I was losing sight as to why we were supposed to be reading our steno notes all throughout school when, as soon as we start working, we will always be hooked up to realtime.

 My major concern was my personal dictionary. If we are not to be focused on it during school, then will I have to spend hours each week working on my dictionary since I never did? Will it be difficult only reading back from my realtime feed since I won’t be used to it? When will my realtime get good enough to allow attorneys or a judge to read it? I needed an inside perspective on all of this, so I contacted Angela McCullough, a recent graduate of CCR, and told her about my concerns and questions. She gave me great answers and relieved all of my worries. Below are the questions I asked her. I believe every student will find this beneficial and a bit of a relief as well.

Was it hard transitioning from writing to paper notes to writing to realtime once you started interning and working?

I don't think this was a hard transition at all. I think writing to paper notes while in school is highly beneficial. It helps your brain register the steno, which makes editing a lot easier. I know that the whole paper note thing is becoming archaic, but I would say that as long as you're in school (until 225 maybe) use paper notes.

 How did you go about building your dictionary since you always used paper throughout school?

Actually, this is a natural process. I didn't necessarily take time outside of work to add in random words that I thought should be included in my dictionary. Going out on jobs and editing them afterwards increases your dictionary entries whether you like it or not. Also, the base dictionary we are provided at CCR for Moody Method is very large, and it's a great place to start. Most of the words I have had to add are just misstrokes that I make consistently.

Did you start building it in school or focused more on it once you started working?

I don't think I focused on building my dictionary in school. In school, I was just focused on passing those 225s. If you focus too much on how clean you are writing, you'll never reach the speed you need to graduate. You are going to have misstrokes. That's inevitable. I know reporters who have been working for 30 years and they are still making mistakes. I would say in school focus on speed, speed, speed. Obviously, if you see a word that you are misstroking time and time again, define it and that will make your life a lot easier.

Leave the dictionary building for when you are out working. :)

 How would you say your realtime is now?

When I started working six months ago, my realtime was not too good. On any given day I would have an untranslate rate of about 10-12 percent. I was hearing a lot of new words I had never written before, so they weren't translating and I wasn't writing them correctly. Over time I have defined those words, and my ears are used to hearing them. My untranslate rate now is anywhere from 2-3 percent on any given day...unless I get a dense medical dep. Then I'm back to square one!!

I also spoke with several instructors about why we need to focus on reading our steno notes as opposed to being hooked up to realtime and reading from our English notes. Even the president of CCR, Jeff, took time out to discuss my concerns with me. I was also provided with a very informative article written by Kay Moody as to why reading steno proves to be more beneficial. This article really made me see why it is vital and also brought back my love of steno. I was definitely convinced that worrying about my English translation was only harming me, so I decided to stop using realtime during class again. I noticed a huge improvement in my writing within a couple of weeks. I realized that I was hesitating more when I had my realtime up, even if I wasn’t looking at the screen.

I have already made a lot of progress in my speed, and I believe a huge part of it is due to the fact that I am not even focused on what is translating or not. I am truly more confident in my writing now. We just have to take it back to the good ol’ theory days and read from steno, think in steno, and correct our steno notes.

Read the article by Kay Moody by clicking here!

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