It’s been close to a year since I started my shorthand quest in earnest.
I did wind up changing systems from Gregg Anniversary Edition to Gregg Shorthand Simplified as I found it better for those, like me, who don’t have an in person teacher. Speed-wise, last I checked I was at something better than 70wpm. I’m probably a bit faster since then which is over six months ago, but either way I’m sufficiently fast for my needs – well above the 30-35wpm longhand I could ever manage. I do at least weekly practice by taking notes during church and I can still read them long after the sermon. While I did switch away from Anniversary Gregg, the Anniversary edition dictionary is still quite useful to have as the forms haven’t changed that much for the rare time I do need to look things up.
My first real aha! moment that everything really was working well was when I was taking notes in a meeting at work and two names I was unfamiliar with were referenced vocally (not on a slide or written down anywhere) and I was able to find out the real spelling of their names via DuckDuckGo searching from the phonetics I had gotten (and it turned out the speaker mispronounced it a little bit).
A few things I did discover. In the aforementioned book, it recommends a fountain pen. Having done it both with a ballpoint and a fountain pen, I wholeheartedly recommend the fountain pen. It’s just so much better. The problem for me was finding a fountain pen that was cheap enough that if I lost or broke it, I wouldn’t be really mad, but one that was good enough. I settled on a Lamy Safari EF and use the Z24 converter with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. I can’t say enough how good Noodler’s is; I had some Quink laying around, and there’s just no comparison in drying time or colorfastness. If you’re looking for black fountain pen ink, go for the Noodler’s.
A few things:
- Practice does make perfect. Outlines that you encounter frequently will become automatic after a while.
- You do wind up developing your own non-standard short-forms for things you run into a lot. And it’s not difficult to read them at all later.
- What I thought would be painful to distinguish p/b, c/g, etc. turns out to have been entirely misplaced. While in some cases it can be a little ambiguous, the context or the rest of the outline have almost always told me which it was supposed to be. The only one that has caused me even the least amount of trouble is the “their” stroke vs. the “n-t” combination.
- Because writing things down is fast and easy, I write more details down than I would before learning shorthand.
- Really, get a fountain pen if you do this at all frequently.