Learning To Type

By Jonathan Timar
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I have a confession to make: I am a cheater.

At typing that is. All through typing class in elementary school I cheated. I simply did not have the patience to learn touch typing back then. I was all about instant gratification.

It worked out well for me. I became a master hunt and peck typist. I was actually the second fastest typist in the class. I got an A. Over time my style evolved into a strange hybrid of touch typing and hunting and pecking, I could even do it in the dark.

But alas I have always been keenly aware of the limitations of such an inefficient style. And so I recently made the decision to learn to type properly.

And this, my friends is the very first post on this blog ever 100% touch typed. It’s taken me a long time, but I am proud to say I have (almost) not looked at my fingers.

That is why it is so short.

Personal development comes in many flavours.

The results (updated on May 18th, 2011)

It has now been just over one month since I first began to learn how to touch type, and slightly less than that since I first typed out the above at a whopping 10 words per minute.

I can now type at about 40 words per minute.

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    I am still not the most accurate typist around. I make quite a few mistakes, but probably no more than I did when I was a member of the hunters and peckers. Now of course I can correct my mistakes without taking my eyes off the screen however, and that makes all the difference in the world.

    How I did it:

    I learned to type using a free online program on a site called Typing Web. It wasn’t hard at all, not nearly as hard as I expected, and my improvement was much more rapid than I expected.

    By far the hardest part was getting started. Those first few exercises where you are typing at the speed of a sloth are hard to get through. I also had to force myself along because, let’s face it, typing the same keys over and over is really, really boring. Once I got past that stage however, things really started to pick up. Typing sentences actually was kinda fun, and it was very satisfying to be able to do it.

    I only practiced for about 30 minutes a day, just enough time to do the exercises and try the typing test once. The rest of the time I trained myself to always use the correct fingering no matter what I was typing, be it a blog post, or a password on a login screen, anything and everything. After a made it though the course once I opted not to repeat it anymore, I was getting enough practice just by doing the regular writing I do daily anyway.

    And so here I am. Just one month later, and I am now a competent touch typist.

    The unexpected benefits

    I became a better and more prolific writer just by knowing how to touch type. I didn’t expect this, but because I now enjoy the mechanical act of writing more, I now enjoy the mental act of writing more. I used to have an issue where sometimes my thoughts would outpace the speed at which I could hunt a peck on the keyboard (even though I was darn fast at it!) and by the time my fingers caught up, I’d have lost the perfect wording that was in my head and I’d have to stop and think again. That’s happening much less now.

    The real word evidence is just how much more writing I have done in the past month, more than I have ever done in the same time period before.

    Typing is a small victory that will lead to many bigger victories.

    My challenge to you is: what small victory can you achieve today?