When I made the plunge into the world of journalism I had thoughts of writing gripping articles, learning the art of interviewing and getting my name in a newspaper under an article. Well maybe thats all to come, BUT I did not foresee having to learn this...
The aim is to be able to write this at 100 words per minute. A task that at the moment looks a million miles away!
100 WPM is the barrier that employers look for from a journalist. We tend to speak at about 150 words a minute on average.
With the developments in technology with dictaphones and mobile phones and other recording devices, shorthand isn't exactly used as much as before. So what's the point?
In a lot of circumstances journalists might not be able to use a recording device. It can be such a useful skill to have to be able to jot down quickly what someone says in a short interview or a statement being made.
But in my opinion it feels like its a test to whittle out those that aren't willing to put the effort in to learn a new skill. Its recommended to learn a small amount, but on a daily basis in order to keep up on it.
I had my first exam at 60 WPM 2 weeks ago, which I am awaiting the results from. Being in an exam was a new experience in itself, but being in one where you are dictated too was a whole new level.
The exam involved a 2 minute piece, 30 second break, followed by a further 2 minute piece. We are allowed 5 mistakes, that is all.
Now, if you get caught behind its very difficult to catch up. If you feel stressed and start panicking, there is no time to sit back and take some deep breaths as by then you will be behind once more. It really is a challenge.
It's been a challenge that I have strangely enjoyed. I'm so competitive in everything I do that I just want to beat everyone in the class. But its that urge that pushes me on to get faster and faster at writing shorthand.
Learning a completely new skill has really opened my eyes to so much more. Learning is something we should be doing throughout our lives and something now I intend to follow on with in the future.