Someone Smarter than me once Said: Write Short. Write Fast

Phoenix Theory, I have a love/hate relationship with you. I love that you’ve made me a conflict-free writer. I’ve never had a word boundary problem. We’ve had 11 great, albeit laborious years together. You’ve been all I’ve known. I didn’t know there was something bigger and better out there for me.

Then a year or so ago, I began toying with the idea of captioning. I learned that you weren’t good enough. You just couldn’t give me the speed I needed. Yes, I can write with no conflicts, but if I can’t keep up, what’s the use? You’ve served me well, but it’s time we parted ways.

But does that mean I should just throw you out completely? Nah, I think  you just need some tweaking.

I never was a briefer, it’s something I just wasn’t taught in school. I was encouraged to stroke everything out and not depend on briefs. Not good when simple everyday words like even, into, and behind are two strokers. I mean, the version of Phoenix I learned had two stroke contractions. (those were the first to get chucked by the way)

I’m sure you feel my pain.

When I first began transitioning to captioning I didn’t have to worry about being conflict free. My problem was that no matter how much I practiced, I just couldn’t gain any speed because getting a one stroke word at least once in a sentence was like winning the lottery with such a stroke-intensive theory like mine.

I have been practicing CNN Newsroom for about a year now. Me and Carol Costello have become pretty good buds. I did make briefs for words like “minimum wage,” “Homeland Security,” and “,” you know, stuff that’s in the news a lot. Even with that, I still was dropping words, heck, whole sentences like nobody’s business. I was losing motivation. It started to feel like a hopeless cause. It wasn’t until about a month ago it dawned on me, why don’t I just brief the stupid small words?!

I’m slow, okay. So shoot me.

So now here I am a month later and I’ve got pages and pages of my handy dandy notebook filled with changes I’ve made to the small words in my dictionary. I go through them at least once a day. When I have extra slow depos I try to use them so they come naturally. I have to say it hasn’t taken as long for them to become automatic as I thought it would be.

The results? I’m flying through the news now. I still have drops here and there, but it’s no where near as much as I used to. I can now spend the extra milliseconds I’ve gained on the harder words.

I wish I would have learned a shorter theory, but in a way I’m glad that I learned to stroke things out, too. Because when a disease like Steele-Richardson Olszewski syndrome pops up I’m not staring like a deer in the headlights wondering, “OMG, what the heck do I do?!”

Now, I know there are two camps when it comes to briefs, some say briefs are a crutch, don’t depend on them; others treat briefs like their drug of choice. Give me a lot, and give it to me every day.

I’m somewhere in the middle. Briefs can be a lifesaver, especially if you have a multi-stroker theory like mine. But use them wisely:

1. Never use a word part for a brief.
2. You’re a stenographer, not a contortionist. Only use a brief that comes naturally to your fingers.
3. Practice your briefs every day until they’re automatic.
4. Briefs are awesome, but with awesome comes great responsibility. Always check your dictionary before adding a brief to make sure you’re not creating a conflict.

So I know all you spunky court reporters and captioners out there can probably shoot these words out of your fingers like gunfire, but just in case, here’s a small word list that are now one-stroke wonders for me.

Easy Court Reporter Briefs:

 Official                  FOILGS
Structure               STRUR
Ready                     READ
Later                      LAERT
Pretty                     PRAET
Manage                 MAFBG
Public                     PUBL
Into                         KPAO
Matter                    MAERT
Occur                      KAOR
Follow                     FLOEL
Better                     BAERT
Family                     FLAEL
Mistake                   SMAEUK
Major                       JOER
Body                        OBD
Couple                     KP-L
System                     SM-M
Money                     MOEUN
Many                        MAEN
Allege                       LAEJ
Ago                           AOG
Country                   KRAENT
Event                        VEANT
Those are just a few of what I’ve changed so far. Do you have any cool court reporter briefs to share? I’m all for swapping some briefs, now.

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