Having spent years working as a legal secretary I thought I’d find transcribing interviews a walk in the park. I was used to trying to decipher letters mumbled through sandwiches or document amendments interspersed with the crunching of an apple or slurping of a drink, so felt that I had been there and got the t-shirt when it came to dictations. How wrong I was! My first few transcription assignments made me realise that interviews were a whole different ball game and that I was going to have to pretty much start from scratch and learn a whole new skill set.
Thankfully the guidelines provided by Business Friend were very comprehensive and I soon memorised them, so I didn’t have to continue stopping every 15 seconds to look up what I should be using to indicate a pause or repetition or emotions, and I soon found I was in the swing of things. Then there was getting used to keeping up with who was saying what, as I was used to listening to just one person mumble into their Dictaphone. Again this was just a matter of time and before long my ears became attuned and I felt well and truly up and running with things.
My next challenge was trying to find good chunks of time to sit down and work, not easy with a toddler who not only has endless energy, but was also coming to the conclusion that nice long daytime naps were somewhat unnecessary, meaning I only had about an hour during the day to sit down and glue myself to my headset. All I can say is my slow cooker has been my best friend, allowing me to get lunch prepared and on to cook the night before, freeing me up during that precious hour. I do tend to do most of my work in the evenings, but it’s no real hardship as you have all your creature comforts around you and no office politics to contend with which is heavenly.
One thing I do love about this kind of transcribing is that you get to hear so many different stories, some of which can be sad but a lot of the time they are really interesting. Listening to someone relaying their life story can sometimes be totally captivating, and I often find that I am really looking forward to getting back on with a transcription the next day, it’s almost like being a fly on the wall. While it is nice to have interesting subject matter to listen to, for me the real deal breaker between an enjoyable transcription and a not so enjoyable one is undoubtedly the quality of the recording. There is nothing worse than finding yourself rewinding the same section over and over trying to working out at least some of what is being said. This tends to be exacerbated if there is more than one interviewee as you find quite a lot of the time people really do talk over each other in order to get their point across. In a funny way I feel that I am actually learning little bits more about human nature and the different ways people view life every time I transcribe a new interview, which is something else I didn’t expect when I decided to become a freelancer transcriptionist.