I recently (like just a few days ago recently) wrote about how Qwerty vs Dvorak isn’t really a productive discussion when it comes to writing. Because typing is only one, somewhat insignificant aspect of the process, if you even type at all. But then I wrote yesterday about the Five Karate Moves for Success, and I started thinking about the Try Something New move. And here’s where we get into the weeds, or leaves of grass in this case because I think maybe a little Dvorak experiment could payoff for both typing and writing. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” I’m pretty sure Whitman Whitman was referring to keyboard layouts.
If you read more than a few posts of mine, after I actually have more than a few posts available, you’ll likely recognize that I don’t always argue the same side of an issue. In part, that’s because I’m often exploring my own ideas through writing, and I don’t have them set in stone. Or, I might come across some new information that causes me to reconsider an earlier position. If I were a politician, I would be accused of not knowing what I think or changing my mind when it’s convenient. Since I’m just a person who likes to ask questions, I’m comfortable in my flip-floppiness. I also happen to think that an adherence to resolve, an inability (or unwillingness) to consider new data, is a major source of our currently bitter political discourse. But that’s really a topic for another day.
For now, I want to say the following. 1) I like experiments. 2) I like the possibility of self-improvement. 3) After reading up on Dvorak a little more, I realized it’s not just about speed but also about ergonomics and stamina; a more efficient keyboard can lead to fewer finger problems and allow you to type fast for longer periods. 4) I’m second-guessing my hypothesis that faster typing doesn’t lead to better writing; I feel like it could, especially if it allows you to enter more of a flow state, especially if you’re working for ugly first drafts.
So, I’m going to see where this leads me. I’ll report back, maybe once a week, maybe biweekly. Here’s a screenshot of a very informal typing test I did on typingtest.com, which will serve as my benchmark. If you want to play along, I’m starting with the exercises at http://learn.dvorak.nl/ It has a little web app that allows you to learn the Dvorak setup without changing your keyboard settings. Some people recommend just switching cold turkey, but since my day job (and my night job and my in between jobs) relies heavily on my ability to write/type coherently, I’m going to start a little slower. I don’t know what type of daily schedule I’ll hold myself to, but I’ll relay that in my first report. Let me know if you have any questions, or if you think this is totally dumb, or if you really just don’t care about my typing (I think that’s probably valid).
Wish me luck.