I have injured my left hand. Nothing serious, no broken bones, just some “soft tissue trauma”, in medical parlance. It means that I am resting it as much as possible, wearing a splint for the first time, and typing these words one-handed. Usually I touch-type, both hands resting on the home keys, and don’t even have to look at the screen as the words appear. I also use AutoText for frequently-used words and phrases and this experience is teaching me how many of them I still type in full – most of this sentence, for example, with the exception of the following: AutoText, frequently, experience, sentence, with and the.
If my left hand needs to be rested for more than a few days I would have to rethink my whole approach to drafting and finalizing text. As I wrote in one of my first posts in 2015 (Writing, typing, “The Shining” and the Cargo Cult): “I write a thousand words per day at least five days a week. Or, more accurately, I type a thousand words per day, at least five days a week. I started in January 2006 and now, nearly ten years later, I have finally set up this Blog to allow some of these millions of words to be read by others. Welcome to my world.”
Typically, by touch-typing and using AutoText, I can easily draft a thousand words in 20 minutes. That’s the speed at which I record private and biographical stuff in password-protected Word documents, words which will never be read by anyone else. Those paragraphs are similar to the “Morning Pages” described in this Oliver Burkeman article, an idea that I tried for a while but felt wasn’t for me. Maybe I’ll go back to it – it’s an exercise in writing longhand (and therefore one-handed), with these rules:
“The pages must be done first thing: ‘You’re trying to catch yourself before your ego’s defences are in place.’ They must be longhand. And you must fill exactly three sides of US Letter paper (A4 is close enough). That three-sides rule is key: on an uninspired day, you might start writing banalities, but if you keep going, having dusted the cobwebs away, you might find breakthroughs occur.”
Words on this Blog are drafted and re-drafted more slowly, but even with my typing speed at around 25 words per minute (which is still quicker than my neatest hand-writing) drafting these words has taken far longer than usual. It has been a frustrating experience. I have no idea how “hunt and peck” typists can use that method for any length of time if they can only draft around 20 words per minute. I learnt to touch-type over 30 years ago, the summer I graduated from university. It has been a very important skill. If that option is no longer available I’ll have to find another way to draft text at the speed I have become accustomed to. At the start of this article I thought that I could type one-handed for a few days but even that will probably be too frustrating. I’ll experiment with dictating text and let you know how I get on.
[I tried dictating text, with voice recognition, the very next day. The results are here.]