I decided this year to learn how to type using Dvorak. It’s possibly a form of procrastination (I can’t write a story if I don’t know where the keys are) but the intentions were good. I figure I’m 35, I’m probably close to halfway through my life but there’s still 35 years or so of typing in me so I’ll make the switch and try to avoid RSI. Also I don’t use all of my fingers when I use qwerty so this is a good way to correct bad habbits. I’m sure in time I will also increase my speed once I am using 10 not 6 fingers, but that is secondary.
I am getting ahead and dreaming. First I set up the keyboard.
I began by putting tape on all of the keys and writing the letters on it. Some people say not to do this but the reality is until you know the keyboard you are lost. Ever tried to type a password on a keyboard where the letters don’t correspond and you have no clue where anything is? It’s fucked. Still, an option you could try is to print out a key/cheat sheet to keep near your screen. You won’t look down at your hands then and your keyboard won’t get sticky either!
The first day was a real shock; I could not type. After a decade of almost daily musings and story writing it was gone. I knew what I wanted to write but the sentences were limited by my speed. One word would take me 30 seconds or so as I hunted and pecked my way around the keys. I had to think in letters not sentences as I forgot what I wanted to say after each word.
Learning something new is hard. Like a 2 year old growing frustrated when they can’t articulate what they want, I too had moments of frustration when I couldn’t express myself with the written word. I think by writing and I felt really lost. I wanted to write plans/goals for this year. I’ve got a lot on my mind at present but could not put my thoughts in order. I didn’t want distraction, I wanted to use the new year energy and leap into it with a kickarse writing habit from the first day. Hell I wanted a first draft done by March.
Instead, I went from about 75 Words Per Minute (WPM) to 3 or so.
I perservered. I did some typing tests and lessons. I found https://learn.dvorak.nl and https://www.typingclub.com to be a good combo. I set the caps lock key to be backspace. If I had my time again I would set the learn Dvorak site to the hardest lesson on day one to get a baseline before I began lessons. You’re not allowed to look at the keyboard though, otherwise you (re)learn bad habbits.
I struggled along and stuck it out. I could almost feel my brain making new connections. I opted to be kind to myself and not write the story until I knew the whole keyboard, just thinking about writing 100,000 words at 3 WPM is overwhelming (555 hours vs 22 hours at my old speed). Plus I want to actually learn and develop good habits.
I am on day 10 and I think I am ready. This is the longest piece I have written but it shows me I can get around now without looking, albeit slowly. I imagine this is similar to re-learning something after an accident. It’s a long process and you need to celebrate the small wins.
I made a short video yesterday showing it in action. It gives you an idea of how long this post took to write.