Typing, you need to practice

I love writing. I do it much. Developers are really just some sort of glorified writers. But while many of us, present company included, are very good at learning new technologies, techniques for building apps and all of that exciting stuff - most of us forget that it is the art and craft of typing that lets us do what we do.

If you cannot type, you cannot write software (yet).

I have for a long time set aside approximately fifteen minutes every day for practicing being a developer, doing e.g. code katas of some sort.

I have decided to do the same thing for the basic skill of writing. I am setting aside 15 minutes a day getting better aquainted with my keyboard. You should probably do the same…

Why

The faster you type, the more connected your thougts are with your output. I have a hard time explaining code to other people without typing and showing it. This is because the cognitive detour from me explaining to the listener understanding is too large. Instead when I type while explaining, my thoughts and the code seem to align making it easier for me to explain what I want to tell - and easier for the listener to get my point of view - while also getting some real context.

Typing speed is the primary goal at the moment - but trying to get more writing done in general is a subgoal as well. I want to get more of my non-code-thoughts written down.

How

Train your touch typing

I use the app Type Fu to train my touch typing. I am not a world class typist - and I still cheat when typing code in everyday life (side note: as a Dane with danish keyboard layout - you hands will have to move away from the home row more often because of special characters…)

As long as you remember that it is more important to type the correct keys with the correct fingers, than actual speed (especially in the beginning) - this app will help you to become a better typist.

You will just be typing random words - and for each level more and more letters/keys are included in the exercises. After each ended exercise you will get your current stats.

And you will get a graph of your progress over “time”.

Type every day

Keep some kind of blog/diary as well. You are not required to post everything you write (the act of writing is more important than the act of editing - and if you are like me, you will begin to censor yourself if the goal is to post something publicly - this is not what you want, when you need to be typing more).

How am I doing

Well that depends. I type faster now than I did just a couple of months ago. But I seem to loose momentum for my typing goal as soon as I cross some fluid threshhold. When typing drils are too easy, and I find that I have nothing new to say, I seem to stop writing every day. And then I get worse… And must start over.

My blog redesign has helped. My writing c++ software and a lot more code per day has helped. Having a personal dashboard with daily keypresses as a graph has helped. I am trying to hack myself to write more.

Keep typing. See you soon…