Learning shorthand

I like to pride myself on learning things that have absolutely zero practicality just because I think it’s cool. (Well, also for the bragging rights). Over the years, this is what I’ve picked up:

  • Pen spinning
  • Juggling
  • Freehand drawing 7/8/9/any number point stars. (But really, all the credit goes to Vi Hart)
  • Origami
  • Speedreading
  • Solving Rubik’s cubes

Halfway through English class last week, when I was frustrated at not really processing the notes that I was typing, and not being able to handwrite my notes fast enough (even in cursive), I got the burst of motivation to learn something new: shorthand.

I heard of Gregg shorthand in this Atlantic article last summer, but I didn’t really know how to start learning. I guess searching the Internet never really appealed to me at the time. But now I was in English class with a laptop in front of me. Time to start Googling.

After reading all the articles I could find about the various forms of shorthand, I went for Ford shorthand. (I should stop being persuaded by articles written by people trying to promote a product.) Most other shorthand forms were made for transcribing speaking and involved learning a special set of phonetic rules. They were also harder to read. Ford shorthand was just a simplified alphabet–no special rules or indistinguishable letters. I didn’t need to write at 200 words a minute –I would be perfectly content if I could write as fast as I could type.

With a one minute test, my normal writing speed was about 35 words a minute, and that was barely legible. I would need to double that rate with shorthand if I’m to see any benefit. Anything less than that, and I’m just wasting my time.

I’ve started writing random stuff in my notebook in shorthand in class to practice. I’ve also started taking class notes in shorthand, but it’s awkward when I’m having to read my notes and spell our words in the middle of an open-note quiz.

Here’s my progress so far:

Warning: This is just my homework copied. It's nothing interesting.

Warning: This is just my homework+ the alphabet. It’s nothing interesting. Decipher at your own risk

Sure, I want to learn shorthand so I can write faster, but it’s also kind of cool to be able to write in code that anyone can decipher through Google.

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to write proficiently in a few months. If not, this’ll be just another random thing to tack onto

Meanwhile, I already know what I to learn next after this:  notebook spinning. I tried learning it over winter break, but it didn’t go too well. (Also, my notebook was falling apart because I kept dropping it on the ground. Whoops.)


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