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Practice, practice, practice

Doug Zweizig

This post from Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, of Baltimore, Md., was originally posted in the Facebook group “Encouraging Court Reporting Students.”  He was the Realtime Contest champion at the recent 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Hey, all. I’ll admit to being somewhat lazy since getting back from the NCRA Convention in Denver. I’ve still been practicing every day, but not as hard as I was up until about a week ago.

I’ve been a reporter for 30 years now (that’s tough to say), and I’d never really practiced all that much outside of school. Maybe the month before a contest, I’d do 10-12 hours of practice.

In school, however, we had mandatory steno homework every night, weekend, holiday, semester break. It made no difference, you had to practice no matter what, or you could leave.

About six months ago I had some inspiration which came from several different people (most positive, one negative). No matter how good I think I am, how many certs I hold, contests won or placed highly in, I still should be honing my skill, staying sharp. And, frankly, I got somewhat complacent and figured, well, I have a high skill level, so why should I? Yeah, my mother would’ve slapped me if I said that out loud in her presence.

Anyway, I decided that I was going to start to practice every single day, and it didn’t matter if I was in trial or super busy. It just so happens that I was in trial, several of them (one pretty long one), but I still practiced before or after court and on the weekends too. I came pretty close to breaking my ankle during this time (it ended up being a VERY bad sprain), but I still practiced even when I had to get around on crutches while wearing an Aircast. 

And after maybe a month, I started to notice a difference in court. Keep in mind that I’ve always been fast. I’m probably faster than the great majority of reporters, frankly. But there’s just something about practicing sustained dictation that really helped me. When I started to realize that, I knew I had to keep at it.

There’s so much more to being a reporter than just speed, but you’ve got to have that as a foundation or the rest just won’t matter.

And FYI, I was blown away by some of the practice. I mean blown away. I keep a practice log, an extremely detailed one, and I can tell you there’s some very ungentlemanly language in there beside some of the entries. But keeping the log is so important to me. I was able to see that a specific take absolutely blew me away a month ago. Two weeks later, it was a little better. Three weeks later, I nailed it!

So, in my opinion, that’s a good way of holding yourself accountable and keeping track of your progress.

I have to proofread a short hearing, and then I am going to be practicing before leaving the office.

Today will be Day 179, consecutive, of practice for me!  I’m going to keep up that streak for as long as I possibly can??.