Making the Switch
So I finally decided to make the switch and leave QWERTY behind. Below is a journal of my journey and what you could expect if you make the switch, as well as some resources I found helpful.
This is going to be a much more irritating experience than I imagined. I’ve gone from 90 WPM with QWERTY to ~9 WPM on day 1 with Dvorak.It really doesn’t take much time to learn the new layout, but getting the mind-body connection is another story. When trying to type with any type of speed, my fingers frequently freeze up or hit the wrong key. Interestingly, I don’t have an urge to look down at the keyboard until later in the week when I get close to 20 WPM. My mechanical keyboard that used to sound like machine gun fire now just makes sad, slow, clicks and clacks.
Resources used – Typing.com, great lessons for starting out and tons of material. Learn Dvorak – another great site that allows you to choose when to add more keys to the lesson. 10 Fast Fingers – used to track my WPM progress.
End of Week 1 Results – slow and steady progress. From 14 WPM to 24 WPM!
I can feel my fingers getting used to DVORAK, and they sometimes know the layout better than my brain. Often I’ll be flowing through a word and I’ll strike where a key used to be in QWERTY. I feel that there’s nothing more I can do to speed the process along, and that I just need to keep struggling onward.
Eventually I progress to hitting 28 WPM frequently with some struggle.
Week 3 and 4
Hovering between 30-35 WPM after some ups and downs. It seems like this is as fast as my conscious mind can take me. Thinking of where each individual key is, then moving my finger to press it won’t allow me to get any quicker. Now I need to develop the muscle-mind connection, so it happens automatically – like I used to be able to do for QWERTY.
It seems like the faster I try to type now, the more my fingers want to revert to their QWERTY muscle-memory and I frequently hit the wrong keys.
Week 5 and 6
There’s not much more to say on this topic other than the progress continues to be slow and steady. After 6 weeks, I’m back to 45-50 WPM. I’ll stick with DVORAK as I feel it has been more comfortable to type on and I like the long-term prospect of me hitting above 100 WPM. I’ll update my progress only with charts in the future, unless something interesting occurs.
You can read further about the best keyboard layouts for programming which covers Dvorak and Colemak.