We would all like writing to get easier, right?
When your writing medium is the keyboard (typing), though, it gets difficult. Imagine you are hunting and pecking your way across the keyboard with two fingers but then you spot a typo. You correct it. Then you laboriously continue to hunt and peck again. Once again you make mistakes. Then you correct mistakes. While you are correcting the mistakes, your focus is lost and you have to think again for a while, before continuing and in some cases losing your state of concentration.
It’s annoying without a doubt.
It’s because of this reason many writers continue to use the pen and paper for writing. It’s easier, faster for them, and is more creatively-oriented (you can’t press backspace, editing with red pen feels more familiar and effective in some cases etc.)
But be that as it may, there is no denying that writing using pen and paper is inconvenient in this day and age. So what can we do to make typing less annoying, and maybe, even fun?
I’m sure you guessed what I was going to say: the answer is simple. Learn touch typing.
What is touch typing?
Touch typing is the act of typing without the sense of sight (that is, without looking at the keyboard). It may sound impossible, but it’s not. Essentially, you’re using muscle memory to remember the location of the keys. It involves placement of the eight fingers on the home row of the keyboard (the row which begins with ASDF…). The typist then moves the fingers from the home row to the top and bottom rows for typing and then returns the position of the fingers to the home row for rest.
The major difference from two-fingered hunt-and peck typing is: you can type without looking at the keyboard. As such, this has important advantages which I list below…
With touch typing, you can…
- Type faster! It’s a no-brainer. If you learn touch typing (more info on that in the next section) you will almost certainly increase your typing speed. It may even double. It may get even higher than that. It depends on you, though. Some people may not make drastic increases. It all depends on practice. How much practice you do after learning touch typing will have a direct effect on your typing speed.
But think about it for a second. Imagine you are typing 30 words per minute using hunt-and-peck two fingered typing. You learn touch typing, after weeks of practice, you can type more than 60 words per minute (WPM). Some more months or a year of typing and you get above 75-80 WPM. That’s more than double your original typing speed. And this leads us directly to…
- Save your time. Time saving is important. Continuing from the previous point, increasing your typing speed makes you save hours of typing time (if you type a lot). That means days when looked from a year’s perspective. That’s a lot of time. Imagine what you can do with it! Increase your productivity, for one. Do more work in less time. The possibilities are endless. Not only you will do the work faster, you can even do better work. How? Read on…
- Make less typos. That’s another big one. No matter how good you are at two-fingered typing, inevitably you will make typos. That’s okay; even in touch typing you will make lots of them (as a matter of fact I managed to make five in this sentence alone before correcting them hastily). But your rate of making typing mistakes will be reduced once you learn touch typing. If before your accuracy rate was 75% or 80%, it can get above 90%. More speed. More accuracy. Less typos as a result. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
- Have a clear state of mind. Did you read the first paragraph in this article? It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s true nevertheless. When I was a two-fingered typist, I looked at the keyboard more and the screen less. That had a result of me straying far and away from what I originally intended to write. It wasn’t a surprise to do few minutes of hard-and-fast typing without looking at the screen (the keyboard demanded all the sight) and then look up at the screen and find not only loads of typos, but sentences which led completely in the wrong direction, to say nothing of grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes.
Now, my attention is at the screen. Made a typo? Correct it instantly. Same goes for grammatical and punctuation errors. You can even read what you wrote before moving on to the next paragraph, and see whether it’s good or not. All this while simultaneously consuming less time… win-win.
- Be more comfortable. For some reason or other, comfort while typing isn’t a widely-talked about topic, though it should be. Comfort matters. If you do two-fingered typing, all of the work is on the main finger which moves from one end to the other and gets tired quickly. With touch typing, you spread the work equally on all ten fingers which lessens the pain. But that’s not all. Your neck is more comfortable now that it no longer has to move from the screen to the keyboard and then vice versa every few seconds. Your arms are relaxed because the fingers rest on the home row. In a nutshell, it’s about this: more comfort. Arms, shoulders, neck and the whole body. (Ergonomics, though, is a matter beyond touch typing. It involves good posture as well).
So let’s recap. You get faster speed, do it in less time, get more things done, get things done better, and all the while, your body is more comfortable if you’re doing everything else (posture, see the previous point) all right. Convinced yet whether you should learn touch typing or not? Because if you are, let’s move on…
How do I learn touch typing?
There are plenty of touch typing tutorials on the web, so I’m going to recommend you the one from where I learned touch typing. The website has 10 touch typing exercises, so you can get up to the mark quickly. (It takes considerably more time to get comfortable and proficient with it).
In the beginning, of course, things look terrible. Your fingers cause pain because they are not used to it yet. You make lots of mistakes. Your typing speed is worse than your two-fingered one could ever be. So what should you do? Go back to hunt-and-peck?
No. Once you’ve learned touch typing, don’t revert back to two fingered typing in the long run. Of course, there are times and situations where touch typing is not suitable (one-handed typing, for one) but mainly, you should stick to touch typing. It will get better as time goes on and you practise. With practice, everything is conquerable, isn’t it?
So I’ve learned touch typing. But how do I check my typing speed?
I’ve got a solution for that as well. There’s an excellent website out there called 10fastfingers.com where they have a typing test with commonly used English words (mostly lowercase, no punctuation and paragraphs). It’s fun to practise using that test. They even have a ranking system, so be sure to check that out.
Of course, that test is not fully accurate as in real-world typing, we have to deal with uppercase, punctuation and paragraphs as well as numbers, which slows down our typing speed. So if you want to get a strictly accurate picture of how fast you will type in the real world, head over to typingtest.com. They have tests with different passages which contain the whole nine yards (punctuation, upper case, etc.) Bonus: they even have a 3-minute or a 5-minute time limit, which is more flexible than the fixed one minute of 10fastfingers.com.
Takeaway: You should keep practising to improve your typing speed. But there’s an interesting fact: even if you don’t type for a while your speed will increase naturally. Useful when you hit a block or feel that even after effort it’s not increasing. Above all, have fun!
My touch typing story
At first, I used two-fingered typing at a strictly average speed (40 WPM). But in January of 2010, I read this post by Daily Blog Tips and was inspired to learn touch typing.
It was tough at times, and I got discouraged more than once. A month or two later, however, I had got the hang of it, even though at that time I was typing just about 20 WPM. Ouch. Not to worry, because about six months later, my typing speed was already high. At that time I then stopped practising and continued typing normally.
A year later my speed was 70 WPM, in early 2012 it rose to 75 WPM and now in mid 2013 I can type above 85 WPM.
During the last two years I didn’t spend a lot of my time on practising to improve my speed, yet it happened. Of course for every person these things are different. But the writing’s on the wall: touch typists type considerably faster than those using two-fingered typing. So come on, join the board!
What about hybrids?
In this article, I have used the words “two-fingered typing” and “hunt-and-peck typing” interchangeably. But in reality it’s not like this, because plenty of hybrid methods exist. Some people write using only five fingers but without looking at the keyboard. There are also peck minus hunt methods which don’t require loss of speed. And so on. These methods are known as hybrids.
What can I say? It’s that simple: you should learn touch typing. It won’t be easy, it won’t be fun in the beginning, but the gains are huge.
- Just for fun, you might like to know that the world’s first touch typist was Frank Edward McGurrin.
- This article is about 1763 words long.
- Despite this being an article on touch typing, I made more than 50 typos (they can’t be seen now because I corrected them immediately). Told you everyone (erm, i.e. I) had a lot to learn.
Have your say
Is this the longest Writers’ Treasure article ever? Yeah, really. So congratulations, because you’ve arrived at the end. But is it, though? Because one component is missing. And that’s your input. What kind of typist are you: touch or two-fingered or hybrid? What are your typing experiences? What’s your typing speed in WPM? Hit them up in the comments!
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