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Andrew Owen

Speed Pointers

from Gregg Speed Building for Colleges, 1943

   Pass from one outline to the next without making any useless movements of the hand or pen.  Do not raise the pen higher than is necessary to clear the paper.  A continuous, rhythmic writing movement rather than a quick, jerky one is a most important "speed secret."  The best time to practice the acquirement of this easy-flowing movement is while taking dictation on familiar matter, as your attention can be concentrated completely on the movement of the hand in passing from one outline to the next.

     The point of the pen at all times should be close to the paper, just enough above it to permit a clear-cut ending of one outline and the beginning of the next. There will thus be no excess momentum to to throw the hand out of control, and a minimum of time will be lost between outlines.

     Most important, however, is the control acquired—for the essence of speed in shorthand is hand control, both in the actual writing of the outlines and in the "traveling" time between outlines.

     Control of the hand is obtained only through control of the mind.  Any lack of mental control will be reflected in a corresponding lack of hand control.

     Be constantly on guard to see that none of your writing effort is wasted.  A great deal of time and effort can be wasted in writing the little strokes longer than is necessary. The strokes for the s, the th, and the t are very small—mere ticks that usually become merged with the writing motions of the preceding or the following stroke.

     The writing of the ordinary check mark gives an at illustration of the writing of two strokes as if they were but one.  When you write a check mark, you do not consciously write for a downstrokes and then an upstroke.  You really give no thought to the two strokes composing the check mark.  You simply make the mark.

     The fundamental of speed is this: Shorthand is written, not drawn.  From the very first, acquire the habit of writing each outline as rapidly as you can with accuracy. Never draw a character in your effort to write it perfectly.  If you cannot write it accurately, you should spend more time on penmanship drills and drill your hand into the correct writing habit.

     Write each outline so that, as it stands alone on that sheet, you can tell by a glance at which end of the outline you began and at which you left off.  At the beginning of the outline, where your pen first meets the paper, the line should be thickest; the end should taper gently off.  The tapering off is frequently called the "get-away" stroke.  All free writing at a fair speed will show it; the faster the speed, the more pronounced will be the get-away stroke.

     As an illustration, take any outline that you know very well, write it several times in rapid succession, and note the tapering off of the final stroke.  This stroke should show in all your writing.  A valuable rule to follow in all your practice is to write no slower that the get-away stroke; that is, do not write below the speed necessary to show this gradual tapering off of the outline.

     It is not necessary to scribble or scrawl to secure the get-away stroke.  Smooth, rhythmic writing will produce it better than anything else.  Do not dash off each outline with a quick flourish in order to show the stroke, or you will lose the value of it entirely.  Always write smoothly and rhythmically. —Charles Lee Swem.

     Before commencing any serious practice for speed, it is vital that there be no doubt that you are absolutely acquainted with the basic principles of the system.  Speed can never be founded upon a faulty knowledge of system. This statement cannot be repeated too often or emphasized too strongly.  You can never hope to become a fast shorthand writer without a complete mastery of the first principles of your system.  At the risk of seeming merely didactic, we assert that the actual foundation of speed in shorthand is in the first lessons of your textbook.  Your mastery of these lessons will affect more than anything else the degree of expertness that you will acquire.  This statement of a practical fact is borne out by the experience of any writer who ever succeeded in reaching reporting speed.

     The learning of shorthand is in many respects similar to the learning of a language.  Whose who speak good English or write it without conscious thought do so because they have had the fundamental principles of English grammar so thoroughly drilled into them from childhood that they apply the principles by force of habit, more mechanically than otherwise.  Indeed, shorthand might be called a language. Shorthand must become a habit of mind as much as the English tongue is a habit if you would use it with the same speed and fluency. —Charles Lee Swem.


About Gregg Shorthand
Editor's Note
A Talk with the Beginner
The Alphabet
Chapter I
   Unit 1
   Unit 2
   Unit 3
Chapter II
   Unit 4
   Unit 5
   Unit 6
Chapter III
   Unit 7
   Unit 8
   Unit 9
Chapter IV
   Unit 10
   Unit 11
   Unit 12
Chapter V
   Unit 13
   Unit 14
   Unit 15
Chapter VI
   Unit 16
   Unit 17
   Unit 18
Chapter VII
   Unit 19
   Unit 20
   Unit 21
Chapter VIII
   Unit 22
   Unit 23
   Unit 24
Chapter IX
   Unit 25
   Unit 26
   Unit 27
Chapter X
   Unit 28
   Unit 29
   Unit 30
Chapter XI
   Unit 31
   Unit 32
   Unit 33
Chapter XII
   Unit 34
   Unit 35
   Unit 36


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