I was reading a great Facebook post today asking whether really clean realtime writers ever practice; and if they do, how often.
It's amazing the number of reporters who never practice. Moreover, it's amazing the number of reporters who feel they do not *need* to practice!
Gaining experience from writing on the job and practicing are two different things. One is utilizing the skills you already have and the other is bettering them. Court Reporter X being such a good writer that they don't need to practice really isn't the point.
If a reporter is good enough at what they do every day in order to do their job and do it well, good for them! There are a great many of us who can do that. However, *any* reporter, no matter how good they are, will improve beyond what they are doing now if they practice with intent. And that is the point. Who doesn't want to write cleaner and with less effort? Who doesn't want to leave less room for error in their final transcript product by writing a better realtime transcript in the first place?
The misguided reasoning behind not practicing is parroted over and over and over: "I am a working reporter; I get enough 'practice' on the job every single day!"
Will your writing continue to improve over the years if you're working all the time? Of course, but sustained speeds and *analyzing* your writing and your dictionary will get you where you want to go if you want to make noticeable changes and truly advance your career. There is no way your writing will not move forward if you "practice with intent." Analyze. Record your own personal word drills. Refine your dictionary. Do those finger drills.
We learned in school to do a five-minute take and then take a guess at "how that felt" before moving on. I don't think very many of us learned to "practice with intent," which is where the real improvement comes from. Programs like Realtime Coach do the analysis for you. I've always gone into the trenches and have done the analysis myself. Either way is a calculated road to higher learning.
Practicing realtime or speed takes without going over the result just doesn't take advantage of the true power that can lie within that practice session for you. You get out of it what you put into it, for sure! Learning how to maximize is key, and the result of acting with intent is the personal goldmine that awaits you deep within that process. The ability to be able to build further upon even that is a treasure trove beyond your current wildest imagination!
That analysis, when you practice with that sort of intent, leads to a much higher level of critical thinking in general when you write -- when you're practicing or when you're working, either one. Your dictionary-building will become a part of your everyday life, and you will see more and more value in practice and analysis and will start doing more of it on the actual job. You'll wonder how you ever lived without that sort of advancement taking place in your ever-evolving steno writing! And you'll see the value in continuing to practice, even when you get to a point where you're "such a good writer that you really don't need to practice."
Practicing with intent is one of the most powerful gifts you can give to yourself. It will advance your reporting career in ways you never even really knew were possible. You will routinely, over time, get your mind to start thinking more critically and consciously about your writing choices and will make intentional thinking the norm in your everyday work habits as well.
Start practicing with intent and feel the power and that magic for yourself!