Type for your life!

I have a confession to make: I don’t touch type.  I have a rather idiosyncratic style that I’ve developed which involves my pinkies stick out in the air like I’m taking tea with the queen while my hands cross the keyboard as though I’m playing a particularly complex piece of Chopin. Which is not always accurate but it’s quick. I’ve used this style all my working life. I’ve written lesson plans, end of year reports, letters and articles using it. Hell, I’ve even written a book or two using it.


So why can’t type properly?

At my all girl secondary school we had the option of taking a subject called ‘Office Practice’ which consisted of pecking at giant typewriters in an asbestos-lined portable classroom  while the teacher marched up and down barking orders.

I escaped this dystopian nightmare by taking Latin instead. In a manner that would have Mr Gove jumping for joy, my mother decided that her daughter would have none of this practical nonsense so I spent two years reading the joy that is De Bello Gallico and learning how to translate sentences like ‘the Carthaginians were once again routed.’ Which of course has proved far more useful in my daily life than that practical nonsense.

Latin was such a popular option in my school that just five of us took it (their mums made them do it too) and was timetabled for a triple lesson once a week. The teacher taught us for the first period, rushed away to teach French somewhere else in the middle period and came back for the final session. Except she usually forgot to come back.  In effectively one lesson a week I learnt very little Latin and got a D but a friend brought in her guitar most weeks and I did learn how to play Stairway to Heaven which apparently impresses teenage boys so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

At uni I had a Saturday job in a local newspaper office as receptionist. My boss, the head of advertising, naturally left the crappiest jobs for the Saturday girl. These jobs usually involved typing pages and pages of classified ads and the week’s sales figures. Not a Latin declension in sight.

And that’s how I developed my quirky style. Hung over, munching a toffee Crisp and desperately trying to see through swollen sleep-deprived eyes. Four years of that every Saturday and I was quick and accurate-ish and I’ve never really had the time to undo the damage.

But I’m now bored with the restrictions. I make the same mistakes constantly (‘citizenship’ gets me every time) and I have to peer intently at the keyboard as I type which makes copying anything really time consuming.

After. I hope.

This weekend I started learning touch typing using an internet programme (hurrah for the internet!) Perhaps one of the positives of being self-employed is that although the business is picking up, I still have time to practice. I’ve learnt all the letters and the commonly used punctuation. My little fingers are not at all happy at being employed and often refuse to work and I find myself hitting the spacebar with my index finger instead of my recalcitrant thumb but I’m getting there slowly.

I have written this post without looking at the keyboard and all I can say is thank goodness for spellcheck. My speed is about 18 wpm and my accuracy probably about 70% but it’s a start.

Do you remember when you learnt to touch type and how long did it take you? Is there hope for me?


7 Responses to Type for your life!

  1. Haha! Loved this post 🙂 Great memories of typing class – the most useful thing I ever learned at school!

  2. I was blessed with a dad who could seemingly predict the future, and procured a typing-trainer for us to ‘compete’ on while we were still at ages in single-digits. It was a little like a speak and spell, but more keyboard shaped.

    I’m not 100% perfect, but I am happily hammering out this sentence without even any awareness that I’m typing, let alone looking at the keyboard. When I meet programmers and writers who can’t touch type I’m amazed at the combination of belligerence and stamina that leads to that situation!

    I have a couple of friends who use DVORAK, and swear by it for less RSI, but I’m in awe of them. Completely.

    What you really need to do is check out ‘typing of the dead’ – probably the most bizarre training-game combo ever made: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Typing_of_the_Dead

  3. aligeorge says:

    I used to do this too, and I can’t remember exactly when I made the switch… we were taught the basics of touch typing in high school but I largely ignored them at the time, I think it was when I was at university I started doing it properly because I was writing so much stuff on the computer I got into the habit of it. I don’t think it’ll take you very long once you get into the swing of it. Good luck!

  4. Tim says:

    I’m just a poorly four-fingers-and thumbs non-touch typist who can do maybe 30 words per minute, although not with any great degree of accuracy. (I’m forever editing and re-editing my numerous typos.) *hangs head in shame*

    Not that I had the option of typing classes at an all-boys school, but I did do Latin. Which has been extremely useful in day-to-life, as for some reason I can’t remember many of the basics beyond “Caeclilius est pater, Matella est mater, Grumio est coquus etc”. Although for some reason I do remember that “psittacus” = parrot and “funambulus” = tightrope walker. See what I mean about extremely useful?

    (Similarly, I will always know that “une mitraillette” is a sub-machine gun in French. I really should have worked in the weapons trade …)

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