A wee bit discouraged… :-

A while ago I was all psyched about learning Shorthand; then the school year set in and I fell away from it. Now I want to get started w/ it again and the doubts and questions abound: I saw some vids on YouTube and they’re so fluid w/ the writing. I feel like a car w/ square wheels trying to fumble through the forms. Does it get any easier? Maybe studying a different form would be easier (Pitman or something else)… I don’t know. What experiences have you guys had? Are there any words of wisdom to lend to this stumbling starter? :-

(by cerinye for everyone)

7 comments Add yours
  1. Maybe shorthand doesn't excite you? Maybe you're too impatient to go through the book step by step. Then again maybe you just went about learning the wrong way and got discouraged. Did you follow the book exercise by exercise? If you did the first few chapters and thought that now that you know all the curves you can start to write your homework in shorthand, then you're obviously gonna get discouraged.

    Learn Pitman instead? Well unless you brain has a particular objection with the Gregg style, but I don't think so. If you can't find a way to be interested in Gregg, you won't in Pitman either. The skills are very similar, and some people just love the stuff — its like a puzzle to be solved (well at least for me).

  2. The exciting part for me perhaps is the point where I can actually use it. I know, logically, that it's a skill that needs to be developed. I just worry that I'm not on the proper path to acquire this skill. I don't have any teachers or videos or other dynamic means of instruction. Just websites and photographs. I think if I were in a classroom setting and had an actual teacher, they could quell some of my unrest about it. How did you learn shorthand?

  3. Shorthand is like any physical or mental skill — actually, it's both, combined. There are times it comes easily and you make great progress, then you hit a plateau and make no progress, and want to quit. Physically, new neurons and blood vessels are being made, but haven't been connected yet.

    One benefit of a good teacher or coach is they know this is going to happen, and find ways to keep you interested and feeling like you are making progress — which you are, it's just invisible. Remember how hard driving a car or riding a bike was when you started? So many things to remember, and now it's second nature.

    Don't get discouraged because it's taking you longer than you expected. In it's heyday, it was a highly valued skill, not a bird course for bimbos who couldn't handle a real course.

    A typical first course goal was all the theory and 80wpm. I'm not sure how courses were structured, but these days that's 13 weeks x (3 hrs lesson + equal time at home) = 68 hours. Someone else said ten hours per 10 wpm. That gives you an indication of what's "reasonable progress", assuming you have the benefit of a teacher.

    I asked a Teeline teacher about self-teaching, and she said "At 1 hour a day I would think you could get to 50wpm in 3 or 4 weeks but it might take another 10 to 15 weeks up to 100wpm. " Teeline was designed to be easier than Pitman. It's inventor claims you can learn the theory easily (this teacher does it in 20 class hours), then spend more time building speed, but by the time it's over, it's still 70 hours of work to reach 100wpm.

    After studying a few chapters, try writing a passage from a novel. You'll be amazed at how much you can write, or at least make a good guess at.

    Meanwhile, my sympathy. I've hit that wall more times than I can count, often timed with a deadline or some other excuse, so I forget the last chapter. I've tried most of the other systems, and three Gregg editions, with the same experience. Some are easier at different stages — Forkner uses the same alphabet; Pitman's vowels are more specific (if used); TeeLine's first stage is amazingly simple — but they even out by the end.

    Things do get easier. You'll reach the point where writing a common word in longhand just seems wrong, and your hand forgets how to spell in standard English.

    Best of luck,


  4. Yes, it does get easier.  But, nothing in life is free.  You have to work for it.   There's no secret to fluidity in writing.  You need to practice.  You need to practice regularly.  It's not the system shorthand that matters.  It's the care you take in learning the system.    Shorthand is like learning a foreign language.  It takes constant exposure and practice.  If you can't write every day, read.  Review the last five lessons.  Do 15 minutes of some sort of shorthand every day.  It's the repetition that gives you the fluidity.  If you are just starting, you shouldn't expect to write smoothly and without hesitation.  It will come.  You will almost not notice it.  Don't compare yourself to others to your detriment.  Knowing how fast someone else makes progress has all kinds of variables involved in it.  How much can they devote to the study, for example.    A little bit everyday will give you steady progress forward.  Trust me.  I'm an old dog trying to relearn my old tricks.  If I don't use it, I lose it. 

  5. In high school I took 2 years of shorthand (1958 fall through 1960 spring terms). Gregg Simplified.

    Starting the summer of 1959 I taught myself Anniversary from the 1929 Manual and the Third Edition Speed Studies, spending about four to six months working on it.

    Yes, it is easier with the enforced discipline of a daily class … but if you apply yourself on a daily basis, there's no reason why you can't learn from a Manual.

    For this type of learning without a teacher, I believe you're better off with the Functional Method as you'll always have a ready key to the shorthand. If you do your practicing and reading upon theory completion you should be ready to go on to one of the Speed Building texts to hone your skill. Mind you, we're talking about five months to over a year of daily practice. You'll feel the time was well spent when you actually can read and write shorthand as naturally as handwriting.

  6. Cerin, Pitman is not easier! In fact, if you pursue this, you'll be surprised at the difficulty of some of the concepts.

    However, there is one possible plus: if you're one of the younger generation that didn't learn cursive well–and spent all of his time writing in print– execution of the Pitman strokes will seem easier; w riting Pitman has the same tactile feel as writing in print.

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