How fast can you type your novel? The faster you can type, the quicker you can produce drafts. Always a benefit! Though it’s obviously not just speed that’s important, accuracy is too.
In the beginning…
When I first starting writing, I would scribble in a pad. One thing I found, was that my brain was a lot faster than my hand. Due to this the words would often blur and become unreadable, in a desperate bid to keep up with the ideas streaming from my mind.
The scratch of pen to paper was soon replaced with the clatter of noisy keys when I started to use a typewriter. Yet even this was slow and there were times I would lose my train of thought… especially if one of the keys jammed while I was typing.
When I was old enough to buy myself a computer, I did just that.
Now, if you type your novel/stories on a computer, you will obviously do better if you improve your typing skills. The smoother the story flows from mind to hands, the better.
Courses vs Practice
In one of my jobs, I was once asked if I wanted to go on a typing course. By this time, I was writing every day and had increased my typing skill.
To go on a course, would have meant undoing what I did and relearning in their way. After I was tested, my employer at the time realised it was pointless as my typing skill was fine.
Now if you struggle with typing you could go on a course and they will help you with hand placement and technique.
There is nothing wrong with this, especially if you have not yet developed your own skill in typing. Some jobs even encourage you to have a typing qualification so they can be good to look into.
If you prefer not to, then make sure you practice – daily if possible.
Eventually you start to memorise where the keys are, feel the patterns of words and even if you catch the wrong letter, you usually realise instantly and fix the mistake.
The level you want to reach is where you can type without looking at the keyboard and at a good speed, that allows the words to flow smoothly onto the screen without a long delay between thinking and typing.
It becomes like muscle memory. If you asked me where the H was on a keyboard I would have a sit and think. But when I’m typing I do not THINK of where the letters are, I just know.
It takes practice (doesn’t everything), you start slow but you do need to use more than just two fingers. If you are a two finger typist you will need to force yourself to use your other fingers. Even if you don’t use all of them.
I rarely use my pinky fingers, they curl up, cresting slightly above the others so they don’t get in the way, only coming down to select the shift key. The other three fingers, and the thumb do everything else.
My average typing speed is over 80 words per minute, not bad for someone without training since I think the typing average (usually with training) is around 65 wpm.
Some days I type faster, when everything fits into place, other days I type slower because my fingers feel awkward and I just seem to hit every wrong key going!
On those days it feels as if I am “out of sync” and I tend to leave the keyboard and scribble notes (but not scenes) with a pen.
The brain is like some lurking manager, stood over your shoulder dictating a speech. You have to type fast enough to get it all down because you know he won’t remember what he just said, and it was probably a corker of a line!
Better to see mistakes straight off than find them all later on (we still have mistakes, just less of them!)
Methods to assist
Type as much and as often as you can, not just your story. Try and get into the habit of sitting down at a keyboard and typing emails, comments, letters… a lot of people now do these on their phone but if you do them on a keyboard you will give yourself more practice.
There are some cracking online speed tests. They give you a passage of text and you have to copy it down.
The test is timed and it starts counting down when you type your first letter. These are great because they give you your speed record (words per minute) and you lose marks for spelling mistakes or missing punctuation etc. You can use these to develop and improve.
Also, by using these they will give you a mix of words. This is important? Yes. I worked in a company once that sold projectors. I got so used to typing the word ‘projector’ that if I had to type the word “project” I couldn’t stop myself adding the extra ‘or’ at the end.
It can happen with writers, if you write fantasy and use a lot of swords or wizards these words because heavy words in your muscle memory. It is good to flex it by typing words you don’t use often.
There are letters in the alphabet that are not used as often as others. E is the most used letter and I believe Q is the least used, along with Z, X, J and V so every time you come to use these slow down a little as you subconsciously try and remember where they are.
Type tests also help to sharpen your spelling, and with the era of text-speak I think we could all use some help.
Here’s a link to a free online type-test: Type Test
To assist in the above where you might slow down to type not so used letters, you can practice the sentence:
The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog
This sentence contains all the letters in the alphabet. Developing a strong typing skill will help in your writing and keep your words flowing.
So, what is your word count per minute?
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