A (Re-)Introduction to Plover Steno

Machine stenography is something I’ve been interested in for ages, but never got around to learning. A few years ago, I discovered Plover, and The Open Steno Project, and got myself the software, hardware, and self-paced lessons. Then I got distracted by other things, and (again) never put in the time to actually learn to use it.

I did learn the basics – the order of the keys, and how to make all the sound combinations, but without regular practice, I couldn’t get much use out of what I knew. Head-knowledge will only take you so far with steno; what I really needed was muscle memory.

All sound combinations for steno (Plover theory, English)

And that’s the goal for next week – to have run drills every day, and started to develop the same sort of ‘instincts’ with steno that I already have with touch typing.

Why Learn Steno?

I can already type, so why take the time to learn a different way of typing? Mirabai Knight makes a compelling case for steno in this series, but I’m mostly interested in two: speed and ergonomics. As a writer, I am in favour of anything that improves the thoughts-to-page flow, and as a transcriptionist it would be great to be able to work without having to constantly hit pause on the audio. But the ergonomic argument has to be my number one reason for wanting to switch to steno. Even now, at the tender age of 36, I’m starting to notice pain in my wrists and hands when typing. There is also a history of arthritis and carpal tunnel in my family, so you can see why I’m concerned. The best thing would have been for my to switch to steno five years ago. The next best thing is to switch now – and that means running drills every day for the next three months, and using steno for everyday typing as soon as I can.

This post was written using qwerty, and the next few will be, too. But I hope to be composing at least some my posts in steno by the end of this month.

If you would like to learn alongside me, check out the Open Steno Project. They have a Discord chat, a Facebook group, and a very learner-friendly forum. See you there!