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AAARGH - DEVELOPING MUSCLE MEMORY IS SO HARD
Chronicles of TwoLeftThumbs a Joe average Querty Typer's experience switching to Colemak.
I switched to Colemak approximately 11 days ago. I've been typing with Querty for over 40 years. Never too good at it. 30 on a bad day 50 on a good day
measured by Type Racer beginner mode.
I've never been comfortable with Querty. The motions are so all over the place and jerky. I find my fingers and hands hurt a little after a lot of typing.
So I said hey there must be a better way. I went online and researched the different keyboard layouts and decided on Dvorak.
I typed with Dvorak for around 3 days and said " hey this is not for me". Dvorak doesn't have much in finger rolls or same side typing.
It's so back and forth back and forth. I just couldn't get into it. So back to the drawing board. I've tried the two most popular Keyboard Layouts in the world, might as well
try the third.
Deciding factors were that Colemak is integrated into Linux and with the handy dandy program provided by Colemak it's easily integrated into Window 7.
What's really nice is that both Linux and Windows allow you to program Hot Keys to switch back and forth between the layouts. This is very important!
I've been typing on Colemak for around 10 days now. Up until yesterday I quit cold turkey it. But finally I decided that I had taken too large a hit in work productivity so I'm alternating between Colemak and Querty depending on how busy I am. Querty in the mornings and Colemak in the afternoons or when I'm not behind. The funny thing is that Colemak is actually helping my Querty typing. Figure.?
Last week 1 st Friday [January 13th 2017] I ended the week at 7 words per minute in Type Racer Beginner Mode. I didn't test myself until tonight 2nd Week Friday and I've increased that to 13 words a minute. I'm finally remembering the majority of the Colemak layout. I find the biggest challenges are that I have a tendency to press the Querty U instead of CK U and the T instead of D. [It's only one over]. I never realized how rarely the P,G,J,K, keys are used very hard to remember. Believe it or not the keys that are the same Like Z X C V B throw me for a loop too. I always have to stop a second and think. Is this really the same in Colemak!
Anyway I think it was valuable to go cold turkey for the 10 days but now I have to get serious, my job performance suffered. My plan is to continue alternating in Querty until I reach 30 words a minute. Hopefully in another 2 weeks to a month. I think can accept a hit in typing speed from around 44 to 30.
My biggest problem is that so many words I've been typing for years. I have strong muscle memory. For example right now when I'm typing this post in querty it's like the word goes from brain to finger without a buffer. My fingers just know what to do. I don't have to think and there are words and companies that I've been using or dealing with for years that I type wicked fast because the keystrokes are just hotwired totally into my muscle memory.
So you may ask why am I going to continue with Colemak.
The biggest two reason why I'm have the commitment to continue are the following.
1.Pride I've always felt that we should look for a better mouse trap. and Colemak is without a doubt superior to Querty. I'm in my 50s and learning Colemak demonstrates to me that my mind is still open to learning new and better ways!
2. I hate to admit it but I aint getting any younger. I want to avoid the potential joint complications created by typing approximately twice as much [Key Distance Wise] and with way more awkward stressful keys.
My advise to a others who are at the beginning stage is the following.
1. If you are experienced with Qwerty and like using same hand key presses, don't even think about Dvorak. It's just not fluid in the way that Colemak will become.
2. Print out the Colemak Chart in Color and put it in front of your Keyboard. Yes you can change your keyboard keys but your hand covers both the 1st and 2nd rows and if you are using proper technique the 3rd row too.
One other tip. I actually wrote little | on top of the beginning letters in all three rows. Example o| I || E ||| N |||| and same on the other side and rows. This helped me to find my postioning from based on where my pinkie rests. Example at the beginning I'd think E 3rd finger over. I used the | so that I wouldn't become confused by letters and number. This worked for me. Now I don't notice the | anymore but at the very beginning it was helpful.
3. Use a Typing Program like TypeRacer to practise and keep track of your progress. I paid the $12.00 for a year so I can save my progress as I go. It's very encouraging to see yoursel go from 4 words a minute to 7 and than to 13 etc...
4. Be mellow, accept that you aren't going to learn it instantly
5. Integrate it and use it at your work if possible. Practice Practice Practice. Depending how your mind works you can alternate between the two layouts. I feel at this point I've been able to use both because my muscle memory is in Querty and my conscious typing is in Colemak.
Side note: The Dvorak after 3 days was messing with my Querty skills but the Colemak hasn't at all.
2nd Side Note: This could change as my proficiency in Colemak increases and I learn new muscle memory.
On a different subject I'm hoping that my mind can compartmentalize the two. When I was 19 I studied Spanish in Spain. I became fluent but interestingly enough a part of my brain began to and continues to think in Spanish. I pretty much don't translate from English to Spanish. When I speak Spanish I use a compartmentalized part of my brain that thinks in Spanish mode. Later I decided to learn French. It was too much for me. I had to drop it because the French words were going into the Spanish Compartment, guess I wasn't intelligent enough for a 3rd compartment. Only 1 foreign language compartment.
I felt it was advisable to know Spanish well than a bastardized mix of two foreign languages.
I'll emphasize for those thinking about switching to Colemak that I'm two left thumbs, my eye to hand coordination isn't the best and I'm a Joe Average Typer. I'm approaching Colemak as a mediocre typist. Your experience may be different.