I started writing three or four years ago. During that time, I’ve written four novels, two collections of short stories, a children’s trilogy, and much else, good and bad alike, in between. All told, I’ve written over a million words at this stage. And yet, I don’t know, nor have I ever learned, how to type. Ever since my university days, I’ve been ‘one-finger Freddie’ (not a reference to some legendary campus sexual deviant, I swear), thumping away at the keyboard like a bemused simian newly introduced to tech, looking up occasionally at the screen to scan the text, with no awareness at all of ‘WPM’ or daily targets. Even now, as I write this, my eyes are glued to the keyboard as I hunt down and stab each letter with a weary index finger.
However, that’s all about to change. In the last few months I’ve made the resolute decision to teach myself ‘touch typing’, that thing people who actually know how to type do, you know, the lightning fingers and eyes on the screen, face all passion and productivity. Professional, like.
I made this decision for two reasons. The second reason was the realisation that I can increase output considerably by taking the time required to learn this method. On an average day, I probably knock out 1500–2000 words. On a good day, 3000. Once or twice, I’ve done 5, but that’s exceptional. I can generally do 3000 in four hours at the keyboard, but I generally burn out after that. I figure that, with touch typing, I can reduce that time to two hours, leaving me more time for editing, reading, etc. All it requires is that I take the (and I’m guessing here) thirty or forty hours required to get myself up to speed with the new method.
But the first and main reason for my decision is something I call ‘keyboard dyslexia’. This is a term I believed I coined myself, my theory being that there is a certain type of dyslexia that affects one only when typing and not when writing or reading. (See below for a list of some of the words I butchered while writing this.) So I went looking for evidence to back up my new theory. There isn’t much out there, the only thing readily to hand on the internet a short article on that repository of sterling internet information, Quora. I kept digging and found an article on an obscure blog by an Irish granddad who had come to the conclusion that it was his keyboard that was dyslexic and not him (recalling, in a way, Tom Waits’ assertion that ‘the piano has been drinking, not me’). I can get behind that (very Irish) logic, but it doesn’t really solve my problem. I kept searching to no avail, leading me to the conclusion that perhaps I was making it up after all and no such affliction existed. Nevertheless, what did become clear during my research is that touch typing is believed to be beneficial for sufferers of good old regular dyslexia. So, if it works for normal dyslexia, why shouldn’t it work for my made-up, imaginary variant?
I made the decision: I’m going to learn touch typing.
I started one week ago. As of writing, I’ve done eight hours of practice, one hour a day, and I’ll keep doing this for a month, or for however long it takes to nail it. I’ve found some excellent free online resources which I’m going to share with you now. TypingClub is the one I’ve used thus far, and it has a logical, structured method for improving the muscle memory.
So if like me, you’re still at homo-erectus level with your typing (and maybe suffering from the imaginary ailment of keyboard dyslexia), let’s get on with evolution and ramp up those WPMs.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zf2f9j6/articles/z3c6tfr (haven’t tried it yet.)
Addendum: some of the shit my dyslexic keyboard comes out with:
tow – two
hte – the
moent – moment
‘Keyboard Dyslexia’, by Ultan Banan. Please note: flash fiction, nonfiction and all other content is the sole work of Black Tarn. Ask before republishing.