October 29th, 2005
Informal Survey

Yesterday, instead of working, I went to PBW’s website and peered through her archives. She doesn’t mind. Really. (Feeling suddenly guilty.) Contrary to most of my actions, I DID have a purpose. *g* I was looking for all her entries on writing. She has given out some wonderful advice over the past year and I wanted to have it all in one place. (My personal writer’s folder.)

What does this have to do with my survey? Nothing directly. In one of her old posts (Nov./Dec. 04), she mentions participating in NaNo. Since so many of us (Okay, I’m still thinking about it.) are participating in NaNo, I found her last year’s entry timely. She ended up typing over 180K in one month. After I finished weeping, I took a closer look at how she did it. One thing stood out to me (other than her insane start time of 4:00am) was her typing speed. She types 90wpm. She herself says that her productivity should be much higher given her typing speed. She breaks down the reasons and gives a pretty convincing argument for the claim. We could debate that point…later, after I retrieve the tongue I swallowed. Her post did get me thinking about typing and schedules. (Since we already discussed schedules over the past few days, I’m not going to rehash them.) Instead, I’m going to break out my copy of Mavis Beacon again and get started.

My survey questions are: How fast do you type? How much of an influence does your typing speed have on your productivity? Do you think one has anything to do with the other?

43 comments to “Informal Survey”

  1. I’m a terrible typist! My rough drafts look like slasher victims, there’s so many red squigglies!

    But I type at about my speed of thought, so it all works out! Plus, slight carpal tunnell do to too much crocheting–if I really burned up the keyboards I’d probably have more pain, so I’m not complaining.

  2. Becca, You type like my dh. He types pretty much hunt and peck with lots of correcting along the way. At least you keep going and correct afterwards.

    I believe my problem with typing is that I type at the speed at which I think. Not good. Not nearly fast enough. I think the highest I’ve ever gotten is 50 to 60 wpm. That’s way too slow.

  3. Jordan I type about like you do, but the “inside my head” stuff happens at about that speed. I’m not sure typing faster would make my brain go faster, though I wouldn’t mind finding out. I have a writer friend who’s been known to write a ST full first draft in like a week or two. She types over 100 wpm and has the most amazing ability to channel her characters. She’s one of those writers will will keep going until she drops, sleep, get up and do it all over again. On the flip side, editing is her cross to bear.

  4. I type 120 wpm. And yes, it makes a difference. I wouldn’t be nearly as productive if I couldn’t type fast and accurately,

  5. Cece, At least I’m not alone. I know every writer has different strengths and weaknesses. I believe that’s what levels the playing field a bit. (Well that and imagination.) I’m going to work on the typing speed…and accuracy.

  6. Charlene, Wow! Good for you. I’m so envious. I had a cousin who used to be the fastest typist in the state of IL. She worked for the government. Where’s my freaken’ Mavis Beacon?;-)

  7. Hey Jordan, just dropping in to say Hi. With arthritis in my fingers I have to type everything if I want to be able to read it later, so no pen and paper notes. Most of the time I can keep up with my brain (which I don’t know if that is good or a not too flattering remark about my brain) but every once in a while a scene will go through faster than I can type and I lose the tail end of it. I do as Becca does, type straight through and then stop and correct, otherwise I will lose the thought.

  8. I could do an easy 120 when I was taking it in school. Think I’m down to about 85-90 now, though.

    It does come in handy with the writing, certainly. And I’m sure it’s a handicap if you can’t type quickly enough.

    Although, the faster I type, the faster the story reads, and I leave a lot out. I seem to do my best writing with a pen and pad anyway.

  9. I know that PBW has terrible, debilitating arhritis, so it’s incredible that she typed that fast in so much pain. She now used a voice activated word processor of some kind because it got too difficult for her. That woman is fricken amazing.

    I don’t know how fast I type. I do type pretty fast and I don’t have to look at the keys. Sometimes this makes a difference, like when I’m in the zone, but others it doesn’t. Like if I’m struggling with a scene or something.

  10. I type pretty darn fast (not sure the rate) and my productivity is slooooow, so I’d say in my case, I just need my brain to speed up.

  11. My typing speed has ZERO to do with how fast I write. I can type fast, but I don’t equate “typing” with “writing” AT all. Two different beasts for me. When I hand write, I’m thinking just ahead of what’s going on the page and the flow is perfect.

  12. I have no idea how fast I type. It’s pretty fast though, and it doesn’t hinder my writing, which is, I think, the important part. If the scene is happening, I’m getting it all down, and not thinking about my hands.

  13. I have no clue how fast I when I took an on-line typing test I sucked! LOL! But I think it’s different typing what’s in your mind vs looking at something and trying to type what you see (if that makes any sense). I’ve had people walk up to me while I’m “in the zone” and say, “Man, you type fast.” So I guess I’d say what matters most goes back to that avg word count per day concept for me. 🙂

  14. I thought I typed about 90 wpm, but then the brain starts goin’ when you hit your mid 30’s . . . 😉 But no, that doesn’t influence me as much as the ideas and how fas they’re coming. I can type fast if they’re flowing, but if I’m struggling, well, typing speed doesn’t matter!

  15. Trace mentioned it and I should clarify — my RA has deteriorated pretty rapidly over the last year, but I can still type about 60 wpm if I wear my wrist and finger braces. The problem is I can’t do it for more than an hour or two a day without massive inflammation problems. These days I mostly depend on Dragon Naturally Speaking to do the typing for me.
    Voice recognition software can be quirky, and a little tough to learn how to use, but it has been a godsend for me. Even though I “talk” my books, I still maintain the direct connection to the page and what ends up on it — something I don’t think I would have if I dictated through a secretary. I highly recommend it to other handicapped writers as a wonderful alternative to using a dictaphone and hiring out the typing.

  16. When I go to town, I think I come in close to 70 wpm. I always thought my 6th grade typing class archaic and useless. HA!


  17. Eve, I’m convinced my brain takes too many sudden turns for me to keep up. 😉

  18. Raine, I like working with pen and paper, but I do get frustrated that I can’t write as fast I come up with things.

  19. Trace, I don’t have to look at my hands when I type. (Thank goodness for my high school typing class.;) Numbers are a different story. *g*

  20. Amy, That’s interesting that your typing speed doesn’t impact your productivity.

  21. Alison, Good point. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  22. Jo, I’m not sure how much my typing speed hinders my writing. I think, like you mentioned, it depends on the flow. That said, I’d love to be faster. (wg)

  23. Patrice, My chest squeezes every time Mavis Beacon says ‘go’ on one of those typing tests. Every muscle in my body tenses and once I hit one wrong key, it’s like an avalanche of mistakes. LOL!

  24. Chey, Good point. Oh, and congrats on the upcoming hardback release. 😀

  25. PBW, Your ears must have been burning. *ggg* Several writers that I’ve spoken to use Dragon Naturally Speaking. They love it. I’m sure it is a godsend to folks with physical impairments. I’m glad you found something that works, so we can still get all of your lovely books. (big grin)

  26. Chris, That just goes to show you that some things from school really do stick with you. 😉

  27. My “official” typing speed was 54wpm at the last test. My Mavis Beacon typing speed is closer to 70wpm with, surprisingly, 100% accuracy (I thnk copy typing from the screen is quicker – for me – than copy typing from paper). However, I hate and detest typing. I do as much as I can in longhand first, and then type it all up, although at the moment I’m typing it chapter by chapter so I don’t have a big batch of typing in one go. If the typing up didn’t form part of the editing process, I’d farm that part out.

  28. I really don’t know. I took typing classes when I was in junior high since most of the written reports in high school had to be typed. I can type without looking at the keyboard. Hmm… I know I can type faster than my thoughts go. Maybe my brain is slow. *lol*

  29. Diane, That’s great on the typing speed. I write longhand when I need to get story ideas down or if I’m stuck. For some reason, they flow when I write on paper.

  30. Silma, LOL!

  31. I type all day at work and then all night when I get home on my papers. I’m a correct as I go type but usually this doesn’t affect my productivity all that much. I tend to stop and think, sketch out more ideas and then continue on again. At last check I was somewhere around 85-90 wpm, which is actually extremely fast. Over 100 is almost unheard of. 😉 I believe 60wpm is about average and there is nothing wrong with that.

  32. Shannon, That’s great! I don’t want to be average. WAAAA!!!

  33. Jordan,

    Depending on how it’s going, I type between 50 and 90 words per minute. For business, I can type 90 words, of course (when I know what I’m going to be typing.)

    I taught myself to type when I was nine, and just kept doing it. Practice, practice, practice.

    And of course the computer keyboard helps a lot!

    I need to finish a novel this month that I thought I wouldn’t have to turn in until January, so I’m using PBW as a major inspiration. Although I’m not signing up for Nanowriting month, I’m certainly pretending I’m part of it to get this done .

  34. uh… in high school it was about 80 words per minute.

    What affects of my productivity is my brain. Is my mind on what I’m doing? Or elsewhere… there’s often days when I can’t focus beyond getting down a thousand words or so.

  35. Wow Douglas that’s great! I did’t learn how to type until I was 14/15 years old and never hardly used it afterwards. I’ve only gotten back into typing since I started the writing (again). I guess that’s four years now.

    I’ll be pretending right along with you. 😉

  36. Shiloh, That’s great. At least you’re getting a thousand words down. I do agree though that when your brain isn’t engaged the writing comes HARD.

  37. I’m an adequate typist. I type about 50-60 words a minute accurately using the Dvorak keyboard. It doesn’t affect my writing speed at all, though, because frankly, most of the time my brain barely manages to keep up with my fingers. They sit there a fair amount of the time, waiting for me to send them something they can use.

  38. LOL Holly! My fingers sit around a lot too. (wg) I haven’t heard of that keyboard. I just bought the brand new Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It’s taking some time to get used to it because it actually tilts your fingers down a bit. I’m off to look up the keyboard you mentioned.

  39. I used to type about 35-45 wpm back in high school. I think I’m a little quicker now (27 years and lots more keyboard use), but speed doesn’t matter. So far my typing is still faster than my mental composition.

  40. Jean, I’m in Holly’s range. I probably type around 50 to 60 words a minute…give or take a few mistakes. 😀

  41. I’m late on this topic, but I was just thinking exactly the same thing. I pulled at my Mavis and was demoralized at my typing speed. It’s definitely something I have to work at.

  42. Monica, I hear you.

  43. Interesting 🙂 I wish I had PBW’s speed. Writing-wise! Because I type 80 WPM on average and up to 85-90 when I’m practicing regularly (i.e. write every day). Yet the maximum I can do is 1000 per hour, maybe 5k a day. After that, brain-fried 🙂