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Thursday, August 16, 2012

8-13-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians -- Starter Job #177 (Working Temp in NYC: “Take a memo, please” and Speed Typing for The Man)


Because I have a great love of language and can visualize words on a page while people are speaking, I am an exceptional at transcriber. And because I had plentiful experience as a freelance journalist, writing up interviews from mostly musicians and celebrities, I also had a lot of transcribing under my belt.

As a journalist, my transcribing tools weren’t as highly functional as in an office where they had the almighty DictaPhone machine. It was like a tape player but had a foot pedal attachment with a play, rewind, and fast forward function. You could also adjust the speed on your DictaPhone console so that it played at a good rhythm that you could type as fast or slow as your speed and keep up with the words.

A note on my typing speed: For years, I couldn’t get up to 45 wpm. The better, higher paying hourly jobs went to those who typed 55 wpm and over, so that was an obstacle I needed to surmount. I practiced very hard for a few weeks, then called Accurate about retesting my typing speed.

Because Denise had a soft spot for brash, funny little me, I re-tested and just made it: 56 wpm. My rate increased by $2 per hour! Oh boy, I was on my way to riches, then!

Anyway, when the bosses wanted me to “Take a letter,” I’d explain that I didn’t know shorthand but could make do with a fast longhand. I’d scribble away on a steno pad, then rush to the typewriter to type what the boss had just dictated relying on scribbled phrases and memory. After a few edits back and forth, the letters could be typed in final draft, on company stationery, signed, Xeroxed for the files, and sent. Whew!  

On the days where I had to mostly take dictation, transcribe, and write . . . as the saying goes, “I’d be laughing. . .” It was something I was really good at, and don’t we love feeling good about what we do well?

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