Thursday, April 24, 2008

Typing 101

When I was in junior high, my Mom refused to allow me to take a typing class. She was old-school, thinking that a young girl with her life ahead of her shouldn't do anything that would pigeonhole her as a secretary.

I can't remember what I signed up for in its place, but it may have been Latin.

But with an engineer for a Dad, and computers lying around the house in various stages of disarray, I was destined to sit at a keyboard at some point in my life. So, typing would certainly come in handy.

One day that summer, my Dad brought home some software called Learn to Touch-Type* or something like that, with a photo of a female administrative professional on the cover.

Since it was the 80s, the woman's hair pulled was back in a severe bun, and she sported a high-collared, floppy-bow blouse under what could be best described as a blazer with shoulder pads the size of an ottoman.

Although the cover art was absurd, I spent one sweaty summer typing aaa sss ddd fff, and various combinations thereof, ad infinitum.

Until, miraculously, one day I could type!

The exercises were such that you droned through them in a trance, and then suddenly realized you were forming words without ever following your fingers as they struck the keys.

Since that time, I've been a pretty fast typist. And being a writer, it's come in handy throughout my career.

At various points in my life, I've been a highly accurate typist, too, but I've always been fast - between 100 and 120 words per hour. I can be competitive, too, so you can imagine the forces that collided when I discovered Typeracer.

Caution: if you're a typing geek, the least bit competitive, or even just looking to waste some time, this is highly addictive. Enter at your own risk!
What's your latest addiction?

*Touch typing is what they used to call typing without looking at your fingers. These days, it's probably what all the young kids learn to do in utero and then they spend the next 13 years learning to type while writing a sonata at the piano while they text their friends and play Guitar Hero.


Kitty said...

My dad had me take a typing class in high school, it was an extra class. He thought it'd be good for me (I guess to type my future papers in college?)

Funny how parents think in such ways!

Spandrel Studios said...

Parents can be so practical! I think my Dad had college papers in mind, as well - that and giving me something productive to do that summer.

It's funny you bring up typing papers in college. I was a freshman in the late 80s, just before computers were required equipment - and being a fast typist, I made a bunch of money typing up papers in my dorm room on my clacky electric typewriter. People would bring their handwritten final drafts, and I'd type them up.

One day, a burly college athlete who was dating my friend asked me to re-type an article he'd ripped from a magazine - with maybe three lines of original content he'd scribbled in the margins - to present as his own work! That one, I refused.