A writer’s confession: I don’t know how to type.

August 23, 2010

While I’ve written four novels, dozens of short stories, probably thousands of ads, as well as maintained three blogs, I’ve done it all with basically one finger: the index on my right hand. Yes, I use the left index finger to mark punctuation but the other digit taps out all the words.

Crazy, huh? It’s not that I prefer longhand; I don’t. Though I wrote the initial drafts of my first two novels with pen and pencil I quickly migrated to laptops when those became available.

In college I wrote in notebooks or on a typewriter nicked from my father. Back then I was a drinker and a smoker and I used my left hand to do that and my right hand to work. God knows what my brain was doing but that’s how I functioned.

As time went by I stopped drinking and smoking cigarettes (though I still puff cheap cigars) but I never learned to type properly. That’s not to say I didn’t evolve; I did. I certainly memorized the keyboard. Subsequently, my finger tapping became faster and faster. I never timed it but when I’m in the zone I can probably hammer out forty or fifty words a minute, maybe more.

As cell phones became more versatile I began using them the same way. Though Blackberry’s keyboard is made for traditional typing I use the one-finger approach there as well.

This likely is stupid behavior but it won’t change. I’ve gotten too competent in my dysfunctional approach to bother learning the proper method.

Oddly, I don’t know a single person who types like I do. All of you seem to engage your keyboards properly. Even you non-professional writers. Am I wrong about this? If so, let me know. I’m curious: Am I the only one-fingered typist who is not a child or a monkey?


10 Responses to “A writer’s confession: I don’t know how to type.”

  1. we call that chicken plucking typing and i am a master of it at full speed! people that type while looking at me still freak me out. wish i could do that too!

  2. No worries Steffan. I’ve been typing on a keyboard since 1984 and have always typed in the “2-finger” method. Even though I took typing classes in school. Never could get the hang of it.

    I am quick, but i do wonder if it says something that I’m an art director and use both of my middle fingers to type?

  3. You’re not alone, Steffan!

    I’ve been a copywriter for nearly three decades now and I too have not learned to type “properly.”

    What didn’t help was the fact that at my first agency in the early 80’s we wrote copy on yellow pads and handed it off to an assistant to key into the shop’s only computer.

    Although, over the years I’ve added a couple of fingers and will hit the space bar with my thumb, making for a three-digit method.

  4. Two-finger typer here as well. Both index fingers.

  5. Never typed a thing until college, and never bothered with cursive. Got by my entire high school years with extremely legible printing, even scoring top marks on assignments where typing was supposedly mandatory.

    To this day I’m a two finger typist who still has to look at the keyboard. I’m pretty quick, but in the time it took for me to even reach that level, my printing got considerably sloppier.

  6. Alan said

    I don’t understand all the hand-wringing about “proper” typing and “stupid behavior”, etc. Who the hell cares what is “proper” typing? If you’re keyboarding at (a very respectable and productive) 40 WPM, then how is that “stupid behavior”?

    Relax and carry on.

    PS: I am a slow touch typist – about 40 WPM – and I don’t feel superior to anyone who is getting his work done by some other method, such as hunt and peck.

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