Practice time while staying at home during the pandemic

Until the last few months, my practice time was generally limited to writing notes / meeting minutes at work, doing some writing while watching regular tv shows in the evening, and sometimes adding a little more serious time on the weekends.

Now, with more time on my hands here at home, I find that I am writing for about one to one and a half hours each morning, a half hour while watching the news before bed, and occasionally extra time during the day.  I’ve seen an increase in speed and better penmanship as a result.

I’m curious whether the others in this forum are finding a similar increase in practice time, and I’m also curious how much time everyone (from beginner to expert) is spending each week practicing.  I’d also be curious to know what material everyone is using to practice (I find I like to watch NY Governor Cuomo because he pauses frequently for dramatic effect).


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8 comments Add yours
  1. As a new GS learner, I probably wouldn't have taken up GS in the first place, except for these times of COVID-19 have left me with more idle time on my hands, and learning something new, and potentially useful, like GS, even if it is just for fun, gives me a sense of greater productivity, and that feels good.

  2. I usually spend any time pre-lockdown writing what I hear on TV etc. not caring if I slop or drop. The TV news has been gloomy, so I switched to YouTube videos instead. I think there is a limit to the amount you can practice without getting bored, and also I feel there is an underlying sense of worry which is making me less productive.

  3. For a beginner that is still learning from the manual, at least 1 hour every day of practice until completion of the manual is what I recommend.

    I don't generally recommend taking dictation "cold" from newscasts or speeches while one still learning because it can be frustrating: one doesn't have control on the speed (so one cannot accurately measure progress) and one doesn't know the content (so a preview of problematic words can't be done). However, if one has decent speed to begin with and good command of the theory so that one can write any word at will, then by all means do it. But to reach that point, you need baby steps with easy previewed material to increase vocabulary and word-carrying ability. And yes, the more one practices, the better one gets because hesitations will occur less often (hence, penmanship and speed will improve), and the writer will be more relaxed because one already knows what to expect from taking dictation.

    1. An alternative to dictation, is to do copy-practice: Get an article, preview the vocab, then translate it into Gregg. Make sure you take in a sentence or so at a time, then write it. Repeat.

  4. My practice is erratic, as usual.

    I finished Simplified theory last year, writing each passage 4x, but stalled in the review section. (Gregg Simplified Functional 2nd Edition — there's a LOT of material.)

    I should review the theory again, and write all the sample words from mid-theory on several times. It would help a lot. But it's boring.

    Instead, I'm writing the QOTD at r/shorthand (on Reddit). I look up every word I'm the least bit unsure of — often enough that I really do need to bite the bullet and review everything carefully. I'm right about half the time. The dictionary and phrase book are very useful!

    I also started taking dictation from the CD that came with a Teeline book, again looking up every word I'm not sure of, and also writing it out neatly. I can take dictation at 50 cold (well enough that I have no trouble reading it back, but might not have all the words right), The next set is 60,70,80. I only succeeded cold with half, and a few just don't want to reach 80. Some of that is because some words that are easy in Teeline are difficult in Gregg. (Accident is 2 short lines in Teeline.) There are only 5 in that set, and I'm scared to try the next. Only 2?? (gotta love pandemic time) weeks ago, 70 was my max, and now I'm supposed to take it cold? (Relax! Cold is only for curiosity and practice writing unknown words. Building speed on known passages is more useful.)

  5. I live in Melbourne, Australia. The State Library of Victoria started a Facebook group inviting information about life and activities during the lockdown. This is for their social history documentation. I admin a FB group for Pitman Shorthand Writers of Australasia and I noticed an increase in uptake of activities I post, more members opening posts and more quickly. I posted this information on the State Library site and received several requests to join the shorthand group that day. One lady said only an hour before reading my post she had found and dusted off her shorthand books and thought she should take this time to revise her theory. Nice to know that shorthand is the “go to” activity for so many people.

    1. I find shorthand dictation is a pleasant way to pass the time while at home, especially because it is mentally stimulating and makes me feel like I've done something useful (there is only so much Netflix you can watch . . . .).  So yes, it is definitely one of my "go to" activities!


  6. I've definitely had more opportunity to be consistent with practice during the lockdown, because while I still have a lot of work I can control my schedule more. I like to do at least an hour a day, because it seems like I can't get through enough material in 1/2 an hour to feel satisfied.

    What I've definitely found is that I have kept up on the blog a lot more ;).

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