It’s been 3 months of typing with the Dvorak keyboard and I am at 99 wpm (words per minute), at the OK plateau. That’s like 1wpm per day! I hope to break 100wpm sometime in the next week!
I started typing with the Dvorak keyboard at the end of February, with the goal being to reach 140 wpm with above 90% accuracy. In the last 3 months I switched to Dvorak, and I have since gone from about 6 wpm to 99. Pretty good, but this is the part of learning any new skill where things start to get difficult.
THE OK PLATEAU! From 6 wpm to 99 wpm. You can see the plateau at the top leveling off. I hope to continue to push through and continue to improve.
We have officially arrived at the OK plateau. I am writing this because when I have tried searching on the internet on how to type faster, almost all blogs and typing websites are designed for beginners. You find this pattern with almost any skill, including languages. There are tons of resources out there for someone just starting to learn a language or an instrument, but once you get to the intermediate and advanced level, the materials become more and more scarce.
Typing is a unique skill in that it is essentially like learning a new language, and learning a new instrument at the same time. I have been trying to treat it like an instrument and I intend to apply the same principals to typing as I did to when I was learning how to play bass guitar or fast fingerings on the trumpet, as well as some basics from piano.
Here’s what I plan to do, and what you can do too with whatever muscle memory skill you might be working on.
THE NITTY GRITTY DETAILS
- Go slow. Ask any rock and roll soloist or amazing piano player how they are able to play so fast. The answer is almost definitely by practicing their parts, scales, and solos VERY SLOWLY. As I was taught in band class: If you can’t play it slow, you definitely cannot play it fast. You really have to take it slow to allow your body to learn how to type in the characters perfectly at a slow pace before you can speed it
- Fix your mistakes immediately. This is an Asian practice technique, but I also was reminded of it when watching Timothy Ferris learning Rock and Roll drumming. His instructor told him that WHEN he makes a mistake to STOP everything, slow it down, and practice playing the same part perfectly over and over very slowly. Perfect practice makes perfect. Bad practice makes you a fast typer who makes a lot of mistakes. But in order to really fast you need to be able to spell out most words with 0 mistakes.
- Use a metronome. This sounds really silly for typing, but using a metronome forces you to SLOW DOWN (Step #1). I use the Type Fu app as my scale generator, but to be honest, I think a program that repeated my problem words more often would be better. Type Fu is designed for beginners, we’re past that. We want something better, stronger, faster.I like to use a technique I used to use while practicing piano. If I play a part correctly, I get to speed up 1 beat per minute (bpm). If I play any errors at all, I have to slow down by 1bpm.
- Focus on your mistakes and learn from them. While practicing I write down whatever word or word combination that I messed up so that I can practice it later and figure out why I was making the mistake and rewrite the muscle memory so that next time I can spell the word correctly. I would be curious to know of other better ways to practice error words, but I haven’t really found any. I would love to hear from some speed typists about this, and will contact some and keep you informed.
- Quantify or Gamify your routine This one is self explanatory, but a big part of not continuing to improve after reaching the OK plateau is that it becomes less fun to practice. Personally, just using the test over at 10fastfingers.com is a good enough incentive to me to keep practicing. I am absolutely going crazy that I am stuck at 99wpm. This is a good thing. This means that my brain will work while I am sleeping to try and solve the problem.
- Sign up for a competition or tournament. When I was learning trumpet in high school this was my biggest motivator. I practiced for hours and hours just so I could try and beat the kid from the town next door at a performance tournament. I haven’t done this since I am currently living in China learning Mandarin, but I am hoping to sign up for some sort of competition once I am back in the states. Even if it is small scale and just between some punk kids at the library, I know that training for a competition would be an effective way to improve.
- Write down your goal, and set a few minutes a day to practice. I am personally not taking this super seriously, so currently I am only practicing about 20 minutes each day. But, I am still seeing improvement.
I look forward to continuing to persevere through the OK plateau, and I hope that you too are pushing through whatever skill you are currently learning. I am also actively studying Mandarin Chinese, if I can find the time to take a break from studying, I can maybe share some of what I am learning on here as well.
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