Tickling the plastic (As opposed to tickling the ivories)

typingWhen I first starting writing my stories, I would scribble them 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 pen was soon discarded for the type writer and the scratch of pen to paper replaced with the clatter of noisy keys. 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.

Now, if you type your novel/stories on a computer or typewriter, 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

All my jobs have involved me using a computer from the moment I left education. Add to this a personal computer at home and I feel I get a good amount of practice in.

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.

Muscle Memory

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 when I am adding capital letters. The other three fingers, and the thumb (usually just the left one for the space bar) 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. But the majority of the time I get my sentences written up quickly, cleanly and correctly.

I have not needed to look at a computer keyboard when typing for many years now, and by looking at the screen and not at my hands I can let the words flow better, smoother and I can get everything down before my brain has time to forget it.

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 – (Obvious but it’s always best to start with those.) Type as much and as often as you can, not just your story but letters, blog comments, diary entries, poems, rants, emails… the more you type, the more your fingers will get use to the placement of keys. Start slow, watch what you type – there are certain words we use more than others. These will be the ones you pick up quicker.

TYPE TEST – 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. As this sentence contains all the letters in the alphabet.

Developing a strong typing skill will help in your writing and keep your words flowing.


Happy writing (or should that be typing?) :/


If you enjoyed this or found it useful or just want to be super nice follow this blog. I am now uploading new posts on Fridays (mostly).

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