In the working world, typing’s almost a way of life. I don’t know the exact number of professions which don’t use a computer in some way, shape or form, but a lot of them do, and being able to type well and fast is of great benefit to many.
For us writers, though, typing has become a necessity. Like many other businesses, writing is now almost entirely electronic and has been for some time. So being able to type well is a necessity.
Most indicators I could find show typing speed is a matter of practice. Techniques must be learned first; once you can touch-type, increasing speed is just practice. Practice, practice, practice. Same as any other skill for the most part, right? Learn to do it right, then learn to do it faster.
I don’t have a bad typing speed — something like 60 wpm, give or take. Depends on how much and what I’m typing, basically. But lately I’ve been looking at ways to try and increase my speed, so I can do more with less time. If I could spend less time behind the keyboard to accomplish the same amount, or better still, spend the same amount of time behind the keyboard and get more done, I’d cover more of the ground I want to cover. Theoretically.
Like a lot of folks in my age group, I learned to type in high school on an old manual typewriter. It required a heavy hand and wasn’t super-conducive to speed. But it gave me a good set of habits I could work with and I’ve remembered those lessons through cognition or muscle memory ever since.
I knew people then would could crank out 70-90 wpm on old, monster electric typewriters — IBM Selectric and its ilk — and worked as executive “secretaries” (which we now call “administrative assistants”), knocking down decent money. If they could crank out those speeds on electrics, where making a mistake meant tedious correction hurtles to jump or re-typing the whole document page, what could they do on a computer keyboard, where correction’s a matter of either the backspace button or double-clicking the errant word and re-typing it? It boggles the mind.
When I was in Texas back in 1997, I met a guy named Jeff. Jeff owned his own web hosting company at a time when that was just becoming popular. He also had the foresight to appeal to a niche market. I lost touch with Jeff around 1998, but he was a smart guy, and without a doubt the fastest typist I’d ever seen. He could rip out command line instructions at a whopping 120 wpm. Wow. I don’t know how well that translated into typing English, but for getting stuff done on his servers, it was blazing fast, and left him lots of time to do other things. Like make money.
I haven’t thought about this in a few months, but now, I have some time on my hands (which I wish I didn’t have, frankly) and can spend a bit of that on increasing my typing speed.
What about you? What sorts of things do you want to spend time improving? I’m not talking about self-help here, I’m talking about some practical thing you’d love to get better at. Voice lessons to sing better? Art classes to paint better? Things you can do to improve on your job? What’s on your agenda for improvement?