Breakthrough

Do you feel stuck with speed?  You’ve been reading along, practicing, and following all these tips, but you feel like your fingers are already moving as fast as they possibly can?  Well, here’s an exercise to help you break through your finger dexterity cap.

Practice bursting short phrases.

Pick a few words you feel comfortable with typing, and practice typing it over and over quickly.

10FF allows you to create your own practice text to type over and over again, and it’ll give you a score based on your speed (and accuracy, of course).

Here are two examples I made that I recommend practicing on.

type something – To focus on bursting long words.  My record is 46 points.

this is how it is – To focus on bursting a bunch of short words.  My record is 60 points.

Get comfortable typing the phrase, keep pushing yourself to get a higher score, and you might be surprised how fast your fingers are able to move.  Don’t forget everything we’ve talked about in previous posts!  All of that will be magnified and super apparent in your burst technique.

Let me know if this helps!

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Q&A – 2

Q: Would you be the Steno board guy?  If not, then would you consider talking about them?  -Durnlaw

I am not the steno board guy!  However, I’ve seen a few steno machines at the mechanical keyboard meetups I’ve been to, and they are very interesting!  I think something interesting to note is that they have feather-light switches.  You hardly feel like you’re pressing anything, typing on those.  I haven’t yet tried learning steno, so I couldn’t tell you more about it. You can get crazy speed with steno though..

Q: Are ergo boards worth it for “average” office workers?  -dandel

Yeah, why not?  If you’re typing on a keyboard for any chunk of time, I think it’s totally worth it to have something that’s nice to look at, enjoyable to type on, and comfortable to use for long periods.  Doesn’t that just make sense? 🙂

Q: Ergonomics?  Row profiles?  Ortholinear layouts?  Dvorak/Colemak layouts??  -lots of people

I haven’t spent time typing on many different row profiles (just Cherry and OEM), nor ortholinear boards, nor Dvorak/Colemak layouts.  I am planning on building a Planck ortholinear board soon, so that’ll be my first venture into ortholinear.  I have a Katana60 plate/PCB that I might build soon, which looks like a nifty ergonomic layout.  The topic of ergonomics is a big one, and an important one, which I’m still working on.  I’ll talk about these topics in posts to come, once I actually get more experience with those things.

Q: Is there a natural typing ceiling that you are born with? Sort of like typing IQ?  -oblivioaccebit

This is an interesting question.  I think.. conceptually, yes.  How much that varies from person to person though, I don’t know.  It’d be kind of difficult to research this.  First, each person would have to train their typing skills to a place where they would say they’re at their personal max speed allowed by their physiology.  How would we even determine this??  And also to say that they couldn’t improve from even more practice and training?  And what’s the prime age for a typist anyway??

I think that’s the difficulty of answering this very interesting question.  If it’s anything like other sports, activities, or games, I imagine there’s a natural skill ceiling each person is born with.  Not everyone is the same, after all.  With that said, this blog is here to help each person reach his/her personal fastest typing speed.  🙂

I have no more unanswered questions.  Need more questions.

Switch Weight

What is the best type of switch for speed typing?  How much does switch weight matter?

Here are my thoughts on switch weight.

Lighter switches require less work to actuate, are less fatiguing to type on over extended periods of time, and are more nimble and easier to use.  Stenographers use the lightest spring weights possible for their switches.  While they are pressing more keys at a time than QWERTY typists, I imagine the lighter spring weight must also be for speed and ease of use.

Honestly, while I can share with you my personal preferences, this is something you have to figure out for yourself.  Experiment and find out what kind of switch you are most comfortable speedtyping on.

For me, these are the main switches I’ve used and how I’ve felt typing on them.

MX Blues-  the first board I raced with.  A fairly light switch with a little click that is heard, but not really felt while speed typing.  Basically a linear switch with a click in the middle of it.  My fingers were able to fly on these switches, I think because of the basically non-existent weight while typing fast.

67g Zealios-  When I fell in love with 67g Zealios, I got myself a board of them and pretty much shelved my MX Blues.  I found I could type equally quickly on these Zealios switches.

Topre 55g-  I noticed I couldn’t type as quickly on these-  about a 15% speed decrease.  I think there’s something about the force curve that throws me off while typing for speed.  It’s not necessarily a mechanical limitation, but it feels like there’s a greater disconnect between the action of the switch and the registration of the keystroke.

Topre 45g-  These are easier than the 55g to speed type on, but that strange feeling of disconnect is still there.  Don’t get me wrong, apart from typing for speed, these two Topre domes are two of my favorite switches to type on.  They’re a favorite leisure typing switch, just not a speed typing switch. 😀

Holy Pandas-  When I first started using these, their very tactile nature reminded me of Topre domes in a sense, with their early action and steep dropoff, so I didn’t expect to be able to type quickly on them.  However, typing more on them proved otherwise. They’ve become my favorite switch for leisure, and for speed.  Something about their snappiness, particularly the snappy return, makes the fingers feel so alive and engaged, while retaining that feeling of flitting around that I talked about in my earlier post about minimizing travel distance and having a light touch.

I haven’t used linears in any of my boards yet, but it’s going to happen soon!  I’ll report about those when I get to use them.

With all this talk about switches, I think the most important thing is that you are in tune with the switch you are using.  Know it inside and out.  Know how much force is required to actuate it, and type accordingly.  Don’t waste time and energy being heavy-handed (heavy-fingered?) and slamming down on the keys.  Type quickly and gently- think more like tapping and less like punching.

What about you guys?  What switches do you type fastest on?

Q&A – 1

Before starting this blog, I sent out a form asking people for questions and suggestions of what they wanted to see.  A lot of people responded, for which I am grateful, and I’ve read every single contribution.

I’m going to spend some posts giving answers to these questions.  If your question is not answered, that means it was, or will be, addressed in a blog post, or a future Q&A post.

Q: How to get more consistent?  –k3lp_boy

Practice, and practice well.  Start slow and work on typing accurately.  Build your speed up bit by bit.  Observe the most common mistakes you’re making, and focus on improving your technique to remedy those mistakes.  Practice. 🙂

Q: Do you think at 140+ wpm?  -jb1830

Hahaha.  When I type for speed, like 10FF or TypeRacer, I do best when I enter this hyperfocused state, where I’m thinking solely about the text on the screen.  My mind will naturally want to wander to random thoughts: “Who’s in 1st place?” – “Can people in the other room hear me typing?” – “My wrists are kind of sticking to my wrist rest” – “My monitor is wobbling” – “How much time is left in this test?”  Stuff like that.

When I’m thinking about things like that, it takes away from my focus on the words I’m typing.  Being focused on the text, reading ahead to myself, and focusing 100% on typing gets me the best results.  There’s a certain high that comes with being in the zone (which inspired the name of my blog) where you’re just feeeeling it.

Also, I never really remember the text I type.  You know like when you’re sitting in a group and everyone has to take turns reading something out loud and when it’s your turn you focus on reading it and then afterwards you’re like, umm I don’t know what I just read?  It’s like that.

It feels like I enter this machine mode where all I do is process the text with my eyes, and then type it out through my fingers.  So in that sense, I guess, no, I don’t really think at 140+ wpm.  Ideally.

Q: What happens if one’s hands/fingers are smaller/shorter resulting in more hand movement/harder to use pinky?  -CrimsonPelican

A: I guess you could say that’s… the hand you’re dealt.  WHahlkjkjlsawef no but seriously, unless your fingers are insanely short, you’ll still be able to reach the keys without needing to move your hand more than any other person.  Do the best with what you have.  Or use a 40% board.  Contact me if you want me to take a look, I’m curious. 🙂

Send more questions!  Happy typing!

The Ctrl Key

When it comes to the world of keyboard shortcuts, there are a lot of them out there.  Here are some useful ones that have to do with typing.  Note: I am only familiar with Windows, but I know Mac has its own key that is analogous to Ctrl, which I believe is Command- use that one. 🙂

The Ctrl key manipulates entire words.  This is probably the single most useful key shortcut to know.  Some usage examples:
Ctrl+Left = Moves the cursor one word to the left
Ctrl+Right = Moves the cursor one word to the right
Ctrl+Backspace = Backspaces the entire prior word
Ctrl+Delete = Deletes the entire next word

In text entry fields, such as 10FF, Discord, Messenger, and the like, Ctrl+A selects all of the text you’ve written.  At which point, you can type over it, backspace it, cut it (Ctrl+X) to save it for later, and so on and so forth.  For example, I will often cut something I’ve typed to “hold my thought” while finishing up the current topic of conversation, then paste it later when appropriate.

Side note: I am a big advocate for using Ctrl in the place of Caps Lock, HHKB-style. 🙂

Hopefully this is helpful!

Minimizing Travel Distance

Minimizing finger travel distance is essential to maximizing your speed.

Finger travel distance is how far your fingers move from resting position to the keypress.  The benefit of using more fingers when typing, as well as using home row technique, is to reduce this travel distance as much as possible.

This is readily apparent with horizontal travel distance, but what’s not readily apparent is the importance of vertical travel distance.

Keeping fingers low to the keys will increase typing fluidity and speed.

Try typing something right now!  Keep your fingers as low to the keys as possible.  Go slowly and watch your finger positioning.  I’m assuming here that you’re typing on a mechanical keyboard or a laptop keyboard.  In either case, note that the key does not require immense pressure to actuate.  You don’t need to punch the key with your fingers, which means you don’t need to raise your fingers up high to generate energy.  Focus on typing with a motion of ‘flitting’ from key to key, keeping the vertical distance as low as possible, typing with only as much energy as required to actuate the key.

I made two videos to demonstrate the difference.

In this video, I demonstrate typical typing technique that doesn’t stay low to the keys.  Notice how high my fingers are from the keys, and how far they have to travel from their resting position to hit the keys.  Note in particular how the right thumb hovers high above the spacebar.

In this video, I demonstrate how I normally type, resting my fingers close to the keys, and minimizing travel distance to required keystrokes.  Notice how the right thumb stays close to the spacebar.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

Keyboard: Canoe with Holy Pandas.

Read Ahead

Here is a mentality tip that has helped my speed a good amount:

Always be reading a few words ahead of what you’re typing.

There is a distinct speed advantage gained from reading the text before your fingers arrive at typing it.  Generally speaking, it’s quicker to type from your mind rather than copy text.  Think of it as utilizing your resources most efficiently.  When you’re typing , we can simplify it and say that two things are happening, in this order:

– Your mind processes the words
– Your hands type the words

If you’re doing these steps at the same time for each word you type, that’s inefficient.  If, instead, you stagger these steps, you’ll get a bit of a speed boost because your hands won’t be waiting for your mind to process.

Queueing up the text in your mind, so you have words ready to go, gives your fingers room to run.

As a general rule of thumb (haha), read ahead about 2-3 words, or 10-15 characters, or about 1-2 seconds — depending on how fast you type, of course.  More reading ahead is required as you build your speed.  As you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll get a feel for how much to read ahead.

The reason this is a somewhat difficult and unnatural thing, I believe, is because of our natural tendency to watch the cursor, ensuring the words we’re typing are coming out correctly.  However, when utilizing this technique, the foundation of good accuracy we’ve been building comes into play, and since you have been so diligently practicing it, you can trust your accuracy to carry you through.  🙂

Let me know how it works out for you!

That’s the type for today — here’s the hype.