Writing court reporting Realtime Naked

Seriously, I usually write better than this.

I’m a pretty busy mother/caretaker/soon-to-be wife. So I don’t have many hours in the day to just sit in front of the TV and veg. Needless to say, when it comes to what’s hot on the tube, I’m clueless.

Last week — and do not ask me how and why it was on — I walked into the living room and there were two naked people on the television jumping and cavorting, just chatting away.

Now, I’m no prude, but I was shocked. OMG, what kind of show is this and why was in on my TV? I don’t get any of those channels!

Turns out it was VH1’s series “Dating Naked.” Apparently meeting new people isn’t awkward enough, VH1 had to make it even more complicated by pairing up couples wearing nothing but a smile.

It was like a car wreck. I just couldn’t look away. No matter how hard I tried, all I could do was watch and think…ewww.

I always realtime every job I do, but it’s just for me. One day during a depo, an attorney was breaking his neck trying to look at my computer screen to see the witness’s previous answer. It was uncomfortable and awkward and all I could think was, “whoa, dude. You’re invading my space here.  Back off.

I felt so exposed….so….NAKED!

And guess what? In a way I really was naked. When you or I are writing realtime for others, we’re essentially sitting there in a room full of people with nothing covering any of our, um, imperfections.

It’s been hard, but I’m learning to let go of the self-consciousness and fear of writing realtime for others. I mean, seriously, think about it. Nobody has been killed or injured because of an untranslate. So I think it’s best to own my imperfections and wear them proudly as a badge of honor. After all, I’ll never grow if I stay in my cocoon.

Well, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

Seriously, though, I do have some tips on how to overcome nerves when it comes to being a naked writer.

  1. Realize everyone makes mistakes. As reporters, we often put each other on pedestals. Mark Kislingbury, Dee Boenau, and Melanie Sonntag aren’t superhuman reporters who write flawlessly 100% of the time. They’ve just dedicated a lot of hard work  to hone their skill. With practice and perseverance, we can be just like them.
  2. Practice everyday. It sucks, I know. But practice isn’t only for students struggling to pass speed tests. Practice is essential to helping you learn how to become a better writer. Your days spent in court or depos doesn’t count as practice. You need focused practice.
  3. Start realtiming for yourself NOW! If you’re not realtiming every job, you need to start now. I mean it. Even if it’s a five minute hearing, take the time to set your computer up. You’ll learn where you need to make changes in your writing so you can begin writing for others.
  4. Take small steps to build confidence. Writing realtime for anyone professionally is scary. Start small by writing your practice material with a friend watching you, or volunteer to caption the sermon for a deaf or hard of hearing person at your church. These people won’t be judging you if you make a mistake. In fact, the deaf or hard of hearing who normally would miss out on the sermon would probably appreciate your skills, even if they are not entirely accurate yet.


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