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  1. Hey everyone!

    I'm starting college in the fall and as I was browsing online about how to take effective notes, I decided to look up shorthand. When I discovered the arts of Gregg and Pittman, I was completely astounded, as I've always imagined shorthand as just a whole bunch of abbreviations, not an entirely different language!

    Anyway, I started doing the lessons on the Gregg Shorthand Anniversary Manual (its online) and I have to say that I like it a whole lot. I picked Gregg because it just seems easier, I doubt i'd be able to differentiate between darker/lighter strokes like Pittman requires and my regular handwriting is sloppy enough! haha. I Just finished unit 1, and while I don't think I have mastered it, I have a pretty firm grasp.

    Just had a couple of questions:

    Is learning this skill practical for use in college (for example, taking lecture notes, etc)? I plan to go into medicine so I won't be going into law or anything as I understand this is used mostly in the law arena, but how useful would it be for me?

    Is it feasible that I will be able to write fast enough to take notes verbatim by the time I start school? (august 28) As I said before, I gained a pretty good grasp of unit 1 in about a day with the anniversary manual, so If I keep going 1 unit a day I should be fluent in about a month….right?


    btw, I am left handed and i hold my pen very….weirdly (as many people have pointed out) so will that affect me in any way?

  2. also, i'd like to give an idea on how many hours i'm putting in. ok, so on the first day I started learning it, I put in about 5 or 6 hours. (it was a friday and things were slow on my job, plus I practiced a bit more when I got home).

    Now, since i'm on summer vacation, I have more free time than usual so all the time that I would be spending playing videogames/surfing the web, I will be devoting to shorthand, which is about 5 or 6 hrs/day (i usually go out at nights). maybe more if its the weekend.

    yea it may seem like i have alot of time on my hands but this stuff just really interests me!

  3. First of all, welcome! We're glad you decided to join this little group of ours 😀

    Anyway, you should start off a little slower. About 1-2 hours should do. Cramming stuff into your head isn't good, and sometimes, the shorter the lessons, the easier it is to retain them.

    Your left-handedness shouldn't bother with your gregg, as long as you can write the outlines and you're comfortable with your position, you'll do fine.

    Good luck 🙂

  4. I hate to burst your bubble but no you won't be writing verbatim by august, by august 09 you'll definitely be writing fast, maybe not verbatim. Also it has a limited usefulness as a note-taking measurement.

    ON THE Brighter side, it seems like you are really interested in it which is a good sign. When I first started Gregg I started studying 5 6 hours a day — I didn't find it had too much negative effect (as long as you're enjoying yourself). It is an extremely enjoyable hobby but its like a language, you can't master it in two months.

    Don't despair. In fact this is one of the beautiful things about it. In Medicine you will be pushed from one topic to another in a week, from one exam period to the next in a couple of months. With shorthand you will be learning and gaining confidence semester after semester, year after year. It will always be there for you to improve on likewise it will always be there to reward you.

    I agree take it easier. Do you know that other book on the gregg.angelfishy.net website — fundamental drills. Download that one as well and make sure to read through the five or so pages allocated to each unit after you have covered the theory. This will help you cement the theory and see a larger range of words than what is given in the manual.

  5. Esviel:

    First, welcome to the group.

    I agree with Michael. (As a matter of fact, I was in your same position when I learned shorthand. I was going to College the next year, and I wanted to learn so that I could take more effective notes, so I dedicated the summer to learning it.) Yes, it is very practical! I studied Science, so I can talk from experience that it was very helpful. But, you won't be writing verbatim immediately. What I did was combine shorthand and longhand and that worked great.

    Verbatim writing comes after years of study: why? Two reasons: (1) you will need a sound knowledge of theory so that you can write any word without hesitation, and (2) when you're learning to take dictation, you have a controlled environment: you learn at specific speeds and keep increasing. In the real world, you find people with different talking speeds, so you have to have developed the ability to retain speech in your brain, and that won't happen overnight.

    I can assure you though, that with constant practice, you should be writing fluently much earlier than when you get your medicine degree!

    There's a whole area of medical shorthand, and there are books of applications of shorthand in the medical field. Your choice of Anniversary is great, because the abbreviations and special shortcuts used in medical shorthand come from the principles of Gregg Anniversary. So you're in good shape.

  6. I'm not sure that I'm following your points of disagreement, but it seems that after three months of constant study, you can now write at 50 wpm. That's a good achievement. As a rule of thumb, after completion of a semester of shorthand (or the first book), one should write comfortably at about 60 wpm.

    It is natural that people make their own abbreviations: that's part of the game. The important thing is that you can transcribe what you wrote.

  7. woah thanks for the support guys!

    anyway, i just finished unit 3. it definitely ramped up in difficulty in terms of stuff that i have to memorize, but my handwriting is getting a little better already! my hand is starting to flow more. (if i even know what that means haha).

  8. okay, so for the first time i'm completely stumped.

    i'm on exercise 4 of the fundamental drills, and while its a challenge, I am getting through it. however there's just one character i do NOT know what it means. I don't have picture but i'll describe it:

    so there's an "a" circle connected to another "a" circle by an "m" stroke.
    O O

    that's a kind of crude drawing but i hope you get the picture. now, when they're connected by an "n" stroke, it has usually been the proper name "Ana" but what is this??? I am inclined to say it means "I'm a" as in "I'ma go get the ticket" but….that can't be right. So……what does it mean???

  9. Hi Esviel — welcome to shorthand 🙂

    I'm a college student too, and I have to say that taking notes even partly in shorthand is a great advantage. I wouldn't expect you to be taking verbatim for at least a few months, probably a year or two, but that's really not a big deal. In lectures, I almost never write down exactly what the prof said, I summarize out the main points and just generally write notes. I feel like the only way to take verbatim is to just write and stop paying attention to the meaning of what's being said. Which doesn't do well for course notes…

    As for being practical, I'd say that shorthand is a useful skill for you as long as you ever have things you want to write down or other people around you say things that are worth writing down! Seriously — I use(d) shorthand at my summer jobs all the time, writing down what my manager was asking me to do, and for taking down notes during meetings. Now that I'm pretty comfortable at about 60 to 70ish wpm it's amazing to me how slow my coworkers have to write when they take things down. Shorthand is just such a *comfortable* way to write.

    — Alex

  10. First, congratulations on your willingness to learn Gregg! You'll find it indispensable as time goes on. I've always said EVERYONE should be able to ride a bicycle, drive a car, use a telephone, cook passably well, and write shorthand. Shorthand, in my opinion at least, should be mandatory in schools, but then I'm prejudiced.

    My only comment is: Don't kill yourself trying to write verbatim. Have used Gregg for reporting, interviewing, and covering a wide assortment of meetings, many of them technical, I've found that, it is quite adequate simply to take (good) notes. If you need a direct quote or a statement verbatim, then do that as a short, concentrated sprint. For the longer run, take the important points and write them accurately. You'll also be surprised also at how much your natural memory will come into play when you are transcribing your work.

    Good luck with your studies and the acquisition of a lifetime skill !

  11. WOW.

    i just taught this girl how to read the first fundamental drill in 15 minutes. it took me well over an hour to grasp that on my own. i just realized how much more efficient it would be if i had someone to teach me this stuff instead of learning myself! haha. oh well, its still fun to learn (and to teach!)

  12. Welcome! I'm another in the boom or bust group. Try as I might, a bit every day doesn't happen for me, in any subject. (Drives me nuts every time my singing teacher asks me how I've been doing, and I realize I've forgotten what I was supposed to be practising.) My progress is … almost non-existent.

    I think in the early days, doing tons is fine. Problems are caused by long gaps between studying, or working when you're too tired — you end up reinforcing bad habits.

    The Anni manual is arranged so the most common sounds and words are taught first. After very few lessons, you can do 50% of running speech. Same with the Simplified manual.

    Also look up Cornell notes, as an alternative or supplement to outlining. Some find organizing their notes into a proper outline gets in the way of just getting it all down. Cornell notes encourages you to get it down any way that works (which might be outlining), then use another column to pull out key points or highlight things later, and a spot at the bottom for a summary. I often use the second column for reminders like "check spelling", or for sub-headings. Each course and lecturer needs a slightly different method.


  13. Maybe you need to find a different balance between Work and hobbies. If you're working till 5 and get home at 6, no one can expect you to be motivated to learn shorthand or practice singing or anything else.

    A lot of people manage but lifes too short to just manage. I am assuming a lot about your life but I might be right. From what I know you were young in 1992 so you won't be too old yet and you work near engineers who have little concept of taking a break. People say theres no way to reduce their hours of work because they have a family etc. Well you can sell a car can't you? Take the train or bike ride to work. Suddenly BAM you've got 200 dollars more every week (depreciation and everything else taken into account).

    I'm a huge fan of bicycling and it gives you more energy to do other things trust me. Today I spent 4 hours driving (I barely ever do that) and I've never felt this tired after 4 hours bike riding. Again I am assuming you drive to work.

    You can literally ask for less hours. From my limited experience in casual work, some dictator managers seem to have all their employers paralyzed. Half the employers at the local supermarket I work at don't even take breaks, and the ones that do will only do it when the manager tells them. I had an argument earlier this year with the manager because he was rushing everyone to do stocking when it all came in the boxes. I insisted on having a break and now he doesn't bother me anymore.

    Were any of my assumptions correct?

  14. LOL! Some accurate guesses, some less so. I quit work in 1997 to stay home with the kids. While I'm grateful for the experience, I won't go back to engineering — too much responsibility. Five years ago I tutored a high school student, and barely remembered basic trig.

    My current problem isn't lack of time, it's too much time. When I have a real deadline, like my writing group or a storytelling performance, I meet it (though sometimes I merely know the story, rather than "own" it), but fuzzy ones like shorthand and "enough singing practice" get short-changed. I'm also classic high-achieving ADHD, as are most of the men in my family, though I didn't realize it until my son was diagnosed. New things get the attention. Things don't get done until there's a sense of urgency. The computer's a love-hate thing. Lots of shiny-new conversations, and lots of useful tools.

    As for standing up for myself at work? Absolutely — to the point where the other women at work thought I was getting special treatment, because I was allowed to bring in an ergonomic keyboard. The woman who had had surgery was too timid to ask for a smoother stapler! I also know what's typical in union contracts for breaks, and took them, although not necessarily at the designated times.

    I'm a moderate exerciser. Between housework — try doing all the floors in under 30 minutes — and the kids' school being 1km away, and a weekly class, I'm satisfied, but you're right about exercise increasing energy. There have been months I haven't gotten enough, and I felt horrid.


  15. ADHD… I'm not a big believer. I think its one of those things like depression where you're putting a name on a natural human instinct. At uni, leaving things to the last minute is universal… even the best students do it a lot of the time.

    That sense of urgency is natural and drives us. Once you attach ADHD to your forhead you think that you can no longer manage to concentrate, it just gets worse.

    How do they diagnose this stuff anyway? You as an engineer should stand up to your doctor and ask him how OBJECTIVE was his diagnosis. Is it based on an actual infection or permanent physical change? He'll try to feed you big words like "chemical imbalance" but remember your body is a set of chemical imbalances– if we were in perfect equilibrium no reactions would occur and we'd be dead.

    As an engineering student you begin to be more cynical about emotional or subjective decisions. Like the emotional link people have with religion refusing to apply some basic facts and form a logical conclusion. Like the psychologists who make up theories based on . (blank space intended)

    Basically your comment about High achieving ADHD got me hyped up because it shows an influence from media, from psychology, from your own imagination, but no influence from fact.

    Secondly, if you have some free time and have trouble with getting things done, you might try to join a volunteer organisation specifically one that has a leadership or organizational aspect. I'm part of one myself and having to organize meetings and lead on camps and meet deadlines constantly will overstimulate and overstress you… in the result that– when it comes to the day to day tasks everything will seem a breeze and you won't find yourself getting lazy with things.

    Then again I could be wrong and ADHD might be some mutation. But then of course I could be right and it could be just a sign of the household you grew up in and the example you took from your family.

  16. I admittedly was a bit hyped up earlier today so if you took offense sorry. I'm sure ADHD is a legitimate condition but that you need to be careful not to label yourself as such simply because you can't get around to doing things. Everyone has this problem to one extent or another and its perfectly healthy.

  17. And here I spent all day thinking how to reply! I'm still coming to terms with ADHD myself. It's very misunderstood, even by the medical community. The doctor is pushing meds but no therapy; the teachers agree with me that he doesn't need them.

    MRIs of the brain show physical differences between ADHDers and "normals".

    Most high achievers have several features (I hate the word "symptom") of ADHD. If that's a disorder, I want it!

    I love your line that if we were in perfect chemical balance, we'd be dead. Very engineering!

    I see it not as a label, but as a description, a basket of tools to try, and things to be alert for. The Down's Syndrome basket would be of no use. The ADHD tools would help anyone, but most people can muddle through without them.

    ADHD has good features and bad, but most can be either, depending on how they're used. Hyperfocus on a school assignment is good (in moderation), on unresolvable problems is bad. Seeking excitement through demanding jobs (or high speed dictation) is good, through annoying teachers is bad. Distractability while in a busy and dangerous environment is good — your attention goes to the movement — and while taking an exam is bad.

    Looking at my past disasters specifically for ADHD-influenced actions has helped me learn more from them, and what to watch out for in future.

    I like Hallowell's Driven to Distraction book. It includes a description of the wide variety, and many tools. Avoid his more recent Delivered from Distraction — it tries to show that ADHDers can be successful because of ADHD, but it minimized the importance of their own choices.

    We should probably let this thread go back to its original topic. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.


  18. Clarification: It's son's doctor that's pushing the meds. He diagnosed based on 10 minutes observation at the end of errands and a boring waiting room. We paid for a proper 8-hour suite of tests elsewhere, and she found other things he hadn't suspected (like the handwriting), and pointed us to other therapists who are great. My own doctor hasn't offered meds, but would probably trust my judgment if I wanted to try them. (She's used to engineers.)

  19. That pun on "chemical balance" was funny but it was in fact quite off the mark, as Peter Kasenenko has pointed out to me offline. Imbalances in Glucose or other chemicals in your body alters the way your brain responds to things and can distort the reality. Isn't that what alcohol or drugs do as well, chemicals are implanted into your body that disrupt the signals that your body sends between the synapses and you see all kinds of wacky things (PS Talking from what I've heard in the media, never would try drugs myself)

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