Apparently I really hate myself, because late last night I switched my keyboard to Colemak.
For those of you who are not keyboard layout nerds, first: how dare you? Second, it’s a remapping of the standard QWERTY layout to this:
Same same, but different, but still same.
I taught myself to type when I was six, with the help of MasterType; I didn’t take a formal typing class until middle school, on old electric Smith Coronas. The teacher promised me I would type faster “home row” style by the end of the semester than I did my own way at the start. She was right, but I incorporated a lot of the lessons from the class into my own idiosyncratic style, and I typed even faster that way.
Nowadays I manage somewhere around 120 words per minute on a good keyboard. By comparison, what I’ve written here so far has taken me roughly 30 minutes, for a blazing rate of 5 words per minute. That’s a dramatic improvement over the 2-3 I managed last night.
I have bad wrists, and extended typing sessions can become genuinely painful for me. Colemak dramatically reduces the amount your hands need to move for the vast majority of words; I feel my large movements on the keyboard have been reduced by upwards of 90%. (Also, they now more resemble a sloth in molasses rather than the previous hummingbird on speed.)
Colemak is also much better for programming than the more common and more famous Dvorak; as someone who at least aspires to get back to leisure coding, that’s pretty vital.
And if I’m going to do this, I need to start now; NaNoWriMo is only eight and a half months away. I’ve got to be able to actually fit 1667 words into 24 hours by then or it will be literally impossible.
And thus. I have a mechanical keyboard but I’m intentionally not switching the keys; I haven’t needed to look at them since I was six and I’m not starting now. I have the image above permanently on my desktop but I haven’t looked at it once while typing this. I’m doing this for real. The hard way.
(And I managed to type this last half in 20 minutes, for a rate of 9wpm. Slow, steady, oh my Deity so slow progress.)
Sunday edit: I’m up to about 15wpm now. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Cats of twitch.tv/catsonurhead as the key catalyst on finally committing to switching to Colemak, something I’ve been waffling on for years. Check out her stream if you’re into old video games played well in a friendly atmosphere. Thanks, Cats!