The obvious benefit of touch typing is the increase in typing speed. When I learned how to touch type, I discovered another little known advantage: Touch typing actually improved the thinking process. Transforming my thoughts into words was faster and easier — all because I didn’t need to shift my eyes to the keyboard to make sure I was hitting the right keys.
Yes, once upon a time, I too was a contented pindut pindut typist. I’ve been joyously pounding on my keyboard ever since I got hold of a typewriter. I’ve also written hundreds of documents and user manuals just using my two poor index fingers, and saw no real benefit in changing my ways.
Then Ry came along who encouraged us to give our poor fingers a break. It was a skill I never knew I needed, and now can’t live without.
So how does one learn how to touch type? I tried a variety of software, and figured out that Stamina was the least frustrating of them all. It’s not perfect — if you’re a total retard on touch typing as I was, you really have to read the help file.
One thing you have to keep in mind to keep your fingers on the home keys.
The home keys are ASDF and JKL;. There are little pimples on the F and J keys which marked where you should position your index fingers. Consequently, the middle fingers should reside on the D and K, the ring fingers on the S and L, and the pinkies on the A and ;. Both thumbs should rest on the spacebar, although only the right thumb is used when pressing it.
Whenever you need to move your fingers away from these keys, always bring them back home. For example, if you’re going to move your middle finger in order to press I, move it back to K immediately.
Another golden rule: keep the fingers relaxed, and minimize finger and wrist movement. This was not an easy task for me — I was just learning to touch type, and my entire body, and yes, fingers included, tense up involuntarily. Talking to myself helps: “It’s just a keyboard, honey. Not a ticking timebomb.”
The Lessons, or practice sets, can be found in the Mode menu. As almost everyone else, I started with the Basic Lessons. The goal is to go thru the lessons without looking at the keyboard.
There is a keyboard graphic which will guide you on which finger to use. You will actually find yourself pressing the correct keys by simply knowing the finger assignments.
After the Basic Lessons, you can move on to Phrases. I actually never finished Basic Lessons myself — typing the same character combination can be a real test on anyone’s sanity.
After a few days of Phrases, you could move on to External File. This is where you can actually practice touch typing using your preferred text. The web is a vast resource of possible external files (I personally prefer Newsweek and Time Magazine). Simply copy the article, and save them to a text file.
A tip for those using External Files: Make sure that you replace these characters — “ ” with – " ‘. See the difference? The first set of characters is actually not represented by any key in a standard keyboard. In order to display these characters, you have to press ALT plus a series of digits. It is recommended that you replace these characters with those that can easily be generated by pressing a single key.
|Replace this||With this|
|Left quote, double||“||Quotation mark||"|
|Right quote, double||”||Quotation mark||"|
|Left quote, single||‘||Apostrophe||‘|
|Right quote, single||’||Apostrophe||‘|
After 2 weeks of Stamina, I have increased my typing speed to 81 words per minute, or 406 characters per minute.
In spite of this, I don’t see myself uninstalling Stamina yet. For one thing, I am still trying to get the hang of touch typing HTML/PHP. And I have to admit, there’s another benefit of Stamina – it is very relaxing. Whenever stress starts taking over, I just let my fingers do the typing ;)