I recently discovered that I’ve learned how to touch-type on the number pad of a full sized keyboard. Somehow, without deliberately training myself, I managed to garner enough practice typing up payroll entries to get the knack of it. 

As I began to realize that I was often typing in numbers without having to hunt-and-peck for them, I began to (over) think how I type on a daily basis. I tried to deliberately think through where each letter of the alphabet falls on the keyboard and found that I couldn’t remember. My hands knew the way, but my memory no longer kept a map on file . Deliberately trying to think of the letters location on the keyboard didn’t just slow me down, it nearly brought me to a halt. How the hell did I ever manage to learn touch typing in the first place? 

Instead, I determined, I mostly type “by ear”. Even if I’m not looking at the screen or at the keyboard I can usually tell when I’ve mistyped a letter, as if I’d played a sour note. If I’m transcribing something and I need to type quickly, I typically keep my eyes on the paper and force myself to read each word sound by sound. Somehow my fingers follow along. I can type pretty fast- about sixty words a minute when I really get going, but I can read even faster, which causes problems.  If I read too fast, or if I glance up at the screen or up at the keyboard and I see a different word with a different sound my fingers will get confused and start tripping over themselves. 

I sometimes wonder if this is what playing the piano feels like to a pianist: somehow knowing what the shape of the music should feel like without trying to think about the location of individual notes. Knowing how satisfying it can be to get up to a good speed when typing, I can imagine how satisfying it must be to be able to be able to make music like that.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 18, 2017.

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