Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Specialized forms of writing take special skills

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I’ve mentioned some time back that I spent about three years at a job that involved transcribing about 30-50 dictated letters a day. It was for an insurance company. It was fun learning to listen, type, and edit lightly all at the same time, while combining that with a required minimum keyboarding speed of 50 correct words per minute. (The real “downer” about the job is that most of the letters were denying clients’ home and car insurance claims. Depressing.) I went into the job with a very naive, almost arrogant ignorance: “Hey, it’s just typing. Who in the world couldn’t do a job like this?” It was a real learning experience for me and a real eyeopener.

Which brings me to the topic of this post: Specialized forms of writing take special sets of skills, learning, and experience. I was watching CNN a couple of days ago when Shirley and I were eating at a Chinese food buffet, and I noticed that the restaurant owners had closed captioning turned on for their big screen wall mounted TVs. As I sat their munching on my General Chicken chunks, it occurred to me that someone was far, far, far better than I at live transcription. Closed captioning people gained my immediate respect.

I would think that doing closed captioning would demand incredible multitasking abilities, wouldn’t it? You have to hear what’s being said, keyboard at breakneck speed, and do a certain amount of editing and rewriting all at the same time. That seems amazing to me.

SO — any of you reading this work at closed captioning? Any of you done closed captioning in the past? Tell us about it, please. I would love to learn how it’s done. It would be good for us all.
[tags]special writing skills, closed captioning, writing as a business, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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