One thing I never really thought about when I first started working on Productivity for Writers is just how fast I can type.
The fastest I’ve ever typed is about 1,000 words in 10 minutes.
I don’t do that often, but I can if I focus and know exactly what I want to write.
In most cases, it takes me about half an hour to write that much. I type about 120wpm.
There are people out there who type even faster (gamers and computer programmers, usually).
My WPM gets me to my word count fairly quickly, so I’m happy.
If you’re interested in how to type faster, here are some tips:
1) Stop editing as you go
Seriously. Stop it.
The world won’t end because you’ve misspelled a word. Your friends know you can spell it. You know you can spell it.
You don’t have to show anyone your typo-ridden manuscript.
You can fix it later.
If it bothers you that much, and it’s something you do often on certain words, train yourself to stop mistyping that word.
Otherwise, turn off your monitor so that you can’t see what you’re writing. Now let’s see you fix that typo.
2) Know where your fingers go
See those sticky-out bits on the F and J keys? They’re where your index fingers should rest.
Your left index finger should be on F, your middle finger on D, your ring finger on S, and your little finger on A.
On the right, your index finger should be on J, your middle finger on K, your ring finger on L, and your little finger on the semicolon.
Your thumbs should rest on the spacebar.
The idea of this ‘home row’ is that you can reach any key on the keyboard from here without moving more than one or two keys from where you started.
I don’t follow this perfectly, but the more I type the more I end up following it naturally.
It is the fastest way to type, even if it feels awkward at first.
3) Know your keyboard shortcuts
I use the mouse/trackpad as little as I can. If I can use the keyboard for something, I will.
On my first ever keyboard, the C and V keys wore away because I copied and pasted so much.
In most cases, the shortcuts are the same for every program, and the only difference between Mac and PC is that on a Mac you press CMD, and on a PC you press CTRL.
Here’s a few of my favourites:
- CMD/CTRL + C = Copy
- CMD/CTRL + V = Paste
- CMD/CTRL + A = Highlight all
- CMD/CTRL + P = Print
- CMD/CTRL + O = Open
- CMD/CTRL + I = Italics
- CMD/CTRL + B = Bold
- CMD/CTRL + U = Underline
- CMD/CTRL + S = Save (do this often!)
- CMD/CTRL + Q = Quit
- CMD/CTRL + Z = Undo
- CMD/CTRL + Y = Undo the undo (this doesn’t work on all programs. Sometimes it’s CTRL + ALT + Z)
We pick things up slower as we get older, but I do not believe that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I once taught our dog a new trick when she was closer to an OAP than a puppy.
Mary Wesley wasn’t even published until she was 57, and she went on to be one of the UK’s most successful authors.
Other authors who didn’t publish until they were retired include Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was 60; Anna Sewell, who was 57; Frank McCourt who was 66; Harriet Doerr, who was 74, and Millard Kaufman who was…90!
It is possible, but you have to persevere, and use positive reinforcement. What you use for positive reinforcement is up to you. I like chocolate, cakes, and coffee. For you it might be a soak in the bath, or a walk with the dog. Whatever. It works in the same way, so long as you do it every time.
5) Check your angles
Sitting at your desk/computer at the right height is paramount. Your feet should be on the ground (not going to lie, mine aren’t usually – I’m a massive hypocrite for this one and will likely regret it in later life), your back should be straight, and your wrists should be in front of your keyboard.
Your keyboard should lie flat – the feet are useful if you don’t know where the keys are, but they create unnecessary strain on your wrists and can do more harm than good. If you want to really increase your productivity, you need to learn to touch type anyway.
5) Learn to touch type
Even when I didn’t type using all 10 of my fingers, I still knew exactly where every button on the keyboard was without looking.
Once you intuitively know where the keys on the keyboard are, your typing speed will increase because you’re not spending time trying to work out where everything is.
6) Stop. Editing. As. You. Write.
I will continue to belabour this point because editing and writing require different mindsets and you’ll get your first draft done a hell of a lot quicker if you stop editing as you write!
Your typing technique has a surprising impact on your writing, and by association, your productivity levels.
Next time you sit down to write, think about how you’re writing. Use a wrist support if you get RSI, or adjust the height of your chair/desk if you find yourself hunching over.
If you can’t type for health reasons, try dictating your novel.
Many successful indie authors do it, including Chandler Bolt and Joanna Penn.
You speak your work into a dictaphone, then send it to someone else to type it up and offer edits. If you struggle to sit at a desk/keyboard for long periods of time, this is the ideal solution.
Over to You
What tips do you have for improving your typing speed? I’d love to hear them in the comments!