on March 3rd, I wrote a blog, “Words, Words, Words”, on the subject of word counts, and just how meaningless they can be. It got a mixed reception, but I continue to watch with fascination as people post their daily word counts, often to the exact number, on Twitter and Facebook.
I do not do this, and I do not envisage a time when I will ever do it. If I write fewer words than you think I should, especially as I have the privilege of writing full-time, you’ll think me lazy, and if I write what you consider to be too many, you’ll think I just bang out any old rubbish.
This is not about that; this is about keyboard skills.
Once or twice, people have been surprised to hear that I write a blog a day, and I do it in the first ten minutes of my morning while I drink my first cup of tea. This seems quite natural to me, as, what I’m actually doing, is talking to you, and talking is fast.
I can, more-or-less, type as fast as I can think. Damn it, I can type almost as fast as the husband can talk!
When I was a child with the chickenpox, desperately in need of something to fill my time, my mother produced an old typewriter, stuck stickers on the keys and gave me a monotype keying-in manual. I spent a very happy week learning to touch-type, and I have been able to do it ever since.
I cannot tell you how thrilled I was when word processors began to be available to me. For a start, they were much quieter than the old manual typewriters, but, also, they didn’t jam if I typed too fast for them. Of course, some of the old word processor packages couldn’t produce each letter as fast as I could type it, but, if I paused for breath, they soon caught up.
I can type 85 words a minute from cold, and a hundred words a minute once I’m warmed up. That’s a minimum of 5100 words an hour, or a maximum of 48,000 words in an 8 hour working day.
That’s preposterous! Well, of course it is, but typing at speed is also damned useful when it comes to getting an idea down on the page in its most natural form, without the hindrance of having to wait for my hands to catch up with my brain.
This is not necessarily a good thing. I do believe that words should be considered, and that sentences should be crafted. I also know, that when I get lucky, the thing will flow at a mile a minute, and, when that happens, it’s really very nice to be along for the ride.
So, here’s my thing: On top of everything else I have exhorted you to do over the last three or four months, I am now going to urge you to learn to type properly. Perhaps this analogy will help you to understand what a good idea this is.
To be a really good driver, to avoid scares and accidents, and all the obstacles of driving on our modern roads, it’s a good idea to learn to drive with an accredited instructor, to pass a test, and, even, dare I say it, to take some advanced classes. Only when you’re a good driver with a decent amount of experience will you really feel the buzz of speed.
Or, if you’re me, you might think of it like this.