What’s Mightier, the Pen or… the Computer? Part 2

I just read in a magazine (Quest Magazine) that a typist who can touch-type can write 50 to 80 words a minute, whilst the average writer can only jot down 31 words a minute on paper. Certainly a good reason to write stories on the computer instead of on paper.

But even on the computer I can’t get my thoughts down fast enough. I find that in my mind I’m already halfway through a story but my hands are only at the beginning. By the time my hands have caught up, I feel like I’ve lost part of my story. It’s like waking up and not writing down a dream immediately. It evaporates before your head’s left the pillow. Lost forever. All that’s left is that nagging feeling that it was wonderful.

Apparently there is a way to type even faster. And that is by using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK). The what?

A quick explanation: Most of us use a QWERTY keyboard (the first letters on the top row of the keyboard). The order was created for old-fashioned typewriters. If a writer typed too quickly then the metal arms would jam. To solve this problem commonly used letter-pairs (like “th” or “st”) were placed so that their metal arms were not neighbouring, and so avoiding jams. So, the order was created so that writers could type quickly but not too quickly.

Dvorak Simplified KeyboardThe computer has no such hindrance so there are no restrictions in letter order. On a Dvorak keyboard commonly used letters (like vowels) are placed under the fingers in the middle row and the least common letters are placed in the corners. Dvorak proponents claim the Dvorak layout uses less finger motion and that increases typing rate.

My cousin taught himself to type with the Dvorak keyboard. He says it took him a few very frustrating months. But he persevered and says that he types a lot faster now. The only thing he finds annoying is when he has to type on another computer. Then he types slower then he used not used to it anymore.

Technically I can switch my computer from the QWERTY to the Dvorak keyboard. Chances are that you too can switch keyboards on your computer, as most modern operating systems allow for this. But it’s those frustrating months of having to teach myself to touch-type on that keyboard that’s preventing me from switching.

I guess I’ll just have to make due with a maximum of 80 words a minute.


Also read ‘What’s Mightier, the Pen or… the Computer? Part 1 


3 thoughts on “What’s Mightier, the Pen or… the Computer? Part 2

  1. I’d never heard of the Dvorak keyboard before. I find using the ‘azerty’ keyboard most people have in France hard enough,so the idea of something so different would make me very anxious I fear. I think I’ll stick to picking my way around qwerty!

    1. Oh, I know. My friends in Belgium use the AZERTY keyboard and it drives me nuts when I quickly want to show them something online using their computer. When the A is not where your fingers think it is, you realise how often you type the letter A. So yeah, that experience stops me trying to learn using the Dvorak keyboard.

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