By: Lisa Dyer
I have been a court reporter since 1984….(wow, seeing that in print actually hurts a little). I have heard about this thing in the court reporting world called conflict-free writing and thought, man, would it be nice to have learned THAT theory. Think of the time it would save in editing if I just fixed some of my conflicts, because let’s face it: while our software is smart and helps with a lot of this, I (we?) still take job after job and spend far too much time fixing sometimes the exact same thing from transcript to transcript.
I was excited to find out that there was a place a court reporter who had been in the field a long time could go to in order to learn some new things to improve my writing. I looked into the program at Anoka Tech, a class called A to Z Realtime/Captioning and CART Skill Level 1, and as soon as I found out I could take this class via Skype while sitting at home in my office in my comfy clothes with my graying hair, I signed up immediately.
It was literally fun to learn some new tricks. I felt inspired as I heard ideas and tips on several areas: ways to eliminate some of my conflicts; new ways to write prefixes and suffixes so they attach correctly; how to create a space so when someone’s address is 111 42nd Street, it can actually translate that way instead of having to insert a comma so that later when you are editing you know where the house number ends and the street begins, (and I even learned how to add the “nd”); how to create different alphabets so when someone says their name is John A. Doe, it translates that way instead of John A. (extra space) Doe. There was tip after tip to devour! I had that excited-student feeling as I went through the course and worked hard in order to pass the three five-minute tests at 97% or higher realtime accuracy.
I have taken my laptop with me to jobs for quite some time now so that I can watch my writing. I admit there are some days I want to slam the screen shut in frustration thinking I will NEVER be good enough to do realtime for REAL, but most days it is fun watching my screen and seeing the improvements as I incorporate the new things I learned. As I bring my laptop to jobs, I love the challenge of decreasing my conflicts and misstrokes, and increasing my confidence.
In closing, here is one of my new favorites: Don’t laugh at me, but I used to write “down” and “do you know” the same way (tkoupb). Now I write “down” adding the “a,” so tkaoupb. Yes, my software took care of a lot of it, and I had globalled a ton too, but it kept causing problems that I would have to fix. I am finally DONE fixing THAT one…and many more!