For sportsmen, people of any discipline, there must exist a certain enjoyment or love for the activity or game which they play. Passion and motivation are two of the most important and related factors of any competitor.

I personally cannot say that I am a good example in the latter. During the start of my typing, I was motivated to practice daily, for at least an hour if not several. Now, however, my intensity has reduced since, mostly because results diminish naturally. While I still practice for quite a while, the sense of wonderment and constant improvement with more practice that was once held has been sapped; it wanes and waxes based on results.

To remain excellent, therefore, I find it necessary to practice constantly. To not fall into the routine of content is vital if one wishes to improve and not become a milestone for up-and-coming typists to surpass; it is a humbling moment when someone of lower experience surpasses someone of much greater, something which, if one seeks excellence, should never happen. Constant improvement is the very reason why we improve ourselves, so that we cement our places.

There are different kinds of practice, however, and for different purposes. As I mentioned earlier, there is practice simply for the sake of cementing skill, which might just be a brush on speed typing daily or every other day. There is practice, then, for slight improvement, enough to keep one’s head above the water and not be a plateau, and finally the real, respectable practice for surpassing- daily, constant, and motivated practice.

For each, of course, one must have a different mindset. Because the first two are not what this journal focuses on, I will focus on the last.

I have watched dozens of different videos, read several books and talked to a multitude of excellent coaches in sports about improvement. The simplest factor, the condensation of the information, is that we must train not for success but for improvement. This is, of course, not a simple task. I myself am a particularly poor example- my temper is very short and lack of results causes great frustration. However, recently there was a realization in my mind, namely that no matter what I thought in my mind, the way to improve is completely in the mind.

Take for example just typing. Anyone *can* type at theoretically incredible speeds, and it is not, for typists past an elementary level, the speed of fingers which determines words produced, but rather the speed at which the mind can convert visual words or mental thoughts into physical actions for the hands to carry out. As more practice comes, of course, we become more familiar with the layout and it becomes second nature, although the time of this practice required can vary greatly. As we can see from everyday people, it is not the amount of time spent typing which necessarily makes a good typist, but it is the amount of deliberate practice motivated towards speed.

Simple using myself as a study to compare with a typing-intensive professional, let us compare the times. I would say that I deliberately practice typing for an average of 1.5 hours daily, while they would type overall for at least four hours of an eight-hour workday, and let’s assume that they’re 40 years old, working for 15 years. In a normal 230-workday year, that would account for 920 hours a year, over 15 years equivalent to 13800 hours, well over the oft-cited ‘10,000 hours’ theory. Calculating my time of an average 1.5 hours daily for a year and three months, that would make up about 450 days, or 675 hours. Even with these conservative elements, this is a 20x difference (over an order of magnitude) in amount of time spent, but most professionals again type less than 100 wpm (as can be evidenced by keyboard forums and the like, it tends from 70-90), while my speed has now averaged at 150 wpm. The disparity is completely explainable, however.

It’s quite simple. I practice every time to be faster, while they are more likely focusing on their job. Even with a dozen times longer spent, anyone can achieve incredible speeds simply by focusing and practicing, focusing on how to improve. An hour a day is a good number for fast improvement, and although more or less can be spent, it’s an average and achievable amount, especially if one focuses.

P.S. Finally broke the 160 barrier, achieving 160 a few times and a 161 result. I do apologize for the late post; some comments would be excellent especially having to do with what you would like me to discuss or even have a conversation. Until next time.




Even with steady improvement, everyone realizes at one point or another that this does not always mean that you will be better than the day before. Following an incredibly poor performance, one of my coaches used a simple analogy: he picked up his foil, and indicated towards the wall, where a horizontal line from the construction was visible. From there, he traced out a line, with upwards and downwards fluctuations; some deeper, but with an upward trend. The upwards spikes were areas of exceptional performance, the long downward dips slumps. 

But the most important part of the diagram is the upwards trends. Observe, if you will, 10fastfingers users’ 50-test chart. Although at the beginning or middle there may be a rare few peak performances, as far as typing, the point of typing is not to have singular, extremely great performances, but to increase to such a point that these increases become average.

Alisterp brought up some important points in discussion, of the factors which are needed for improvement. Most of the time, typists are given simple tips in order to not overcomplicate the process of improvement, in order to give a good solution which should help most, e.g. focusing on accuracy. However, this is not conducive to the best possible performance because typing, a complex motor skill which depends on not only the words typed but the hands’ previous position, requires flawless muscle memory for raw speed, relaxation, so that the fingers do not become tense and become unable to type accurately or at the same speed, and abilities to break down a word consistently and at very high speeds. As mentioned in my earlier post, the ability to read ahead is crucial, the first step to being able to type quickly. Without the ability to know what you are about to type, the fingers’ abilities are useless. Therefore, unless one is able to, without fail, read ahead of what they are currently typing and not have to think at all about the current word, practice is required. In my personal experiences, this is the factor that allowed me to surpass an 120-130 barrier, and consistently stay above. Those without the ability will be constantly mired, with inability to type consistently at their true pace.

However, all that I’ve talked about so far are simple aspects of improvement, but the knowledge behind was neglected. The mind is a complex and powerful organ, but its true power lay in its subconscious, rather than conscious, ability. Muscle memory is an important aspect in any sport, game, or skill, because it allows a task to be done without particular consideration for the more minor details and more focus on the quality of the performance. The unconscious is, of course, trained most obviously by repetition, which is why no enterprising young typist can simply pick up a new layout and type proficiently with it instantly; the mind spends so much of its conscious energy focusing on the keys pressed that the once simple ability to read becomes clogged with the extra action. This piece of energy used for actions like thinking of where a key is becomes lesser and lesser of an issue; the most important point in this is the ability to touch type, to reduce consideration enough that ocular input is not required, so that the eyes can be completely focused on the task at hand.

This leads me to the conclusion that typing in itself is an exercise in focus and repetition. The less energy one expends on fingering, questioning a word’s location, and extraneous factors, the more perfectly he is able to use his muscle memory. As always, I would be happy to answer any comments or questions.

Personal tidbit, I broke the 150 barrier quite handily, achieving a record of 154 last week and following it up with a 156 yesterday. Farewell for now.

Temporary Plateaus

My typing today had me thinking about progress in general. As would be quite obvious, when one first starts learning typing, their speed increases very rapidly, sometimes three or four wpm in a single day. When we become more expert, performances greater than one’s skill, as in one would slow down and score lower than the given score on average, still happen just as frequently, but with less average increases, as can be very frustrating. 

Let me add in my personal experiences recently. Perhaps three weeks ago, or two even, I was rather consistently in the 130 area, with a high 130 as a very decent result for me. Now, after intense practice but also complete rest yesterday and for most of the day before, my average typing speed today has skyrocketed, to the mid-140 over several tests, consistently better than before and even breaking my record of 147 to 149 (sadly, an extremely good test which I took received an error). This leads me back to the idea very pervasive in sports, known as plateaus.

Think of what a plateau is. A flat, high stone, akin to a cliff. The very word suggests the meaning quite readily. At higher, even not incredibly high levels, there will be periods in which someone simply seems to not improve, or even retrograde in their ability, even while practicing very frequently. This is a plateau. But what causes this is not a simple accumulation of skill to get to the ‘next level’, but the surmounting of a mental block which allows one to use their pre-existing skills to a new degree. Whether greater confidence in typing, a new vision or insight to a sport or game, one immediately notices the gain, almost never returning to the depths of before. 

But what concerns me more is the surmounting of this plateau. Because they are difficult to surmount, resulting of course in the great frustration of many, a starting point, advice, could be quite relevant..

I have had a great deal of plateaus, in both sport and in typing. Having managed to surmount them with a great deal of effort, there are things which I have managed to glean from the process. What allowed be to get over this typing block was, most importantly, rest. Practice allowed me necessary upkeep, but when the rest was taken, when I was able to reset my body, the patterns of my old self were erased and thus speed and consistency were gained incredibly.

But that is not all there is by any means. Take, for example, my sport. For the longest time, perhaps a month, I seemed unable to defeat anyone with a modicum of skill; my actions were well-executed, but always in the wrong place or time. But one day, again after resting for a few days, I competed with an individual who I regarded as significantly ahead of me, enough to score twice the amount of points which I am able. But that day, my techniques seemed to overcome me- they were simple to use, footwork was excellent and relaxed, and by the time I had gotten two hits in a row, on him, I continued to make six more- and win with twice his score. 

The most vital word in the entire selection was ‘relaxed’. Through relaxation, and, as was referenced earlier, restarting, the mind is able to apply the things which it was taught from a new, often more optimal, perspective. 

That is the advice I will leave, and leave off on. Feel free to leave a comment (which I would be excited to reply to) if any advice or tips are wanted.


A factor which has been plaguing me for some time in terms of its lacking is the tiring of fingers and hands.

At speeds below 130, I could easily type for hours on end without issue, but recently, having started fencing for four times weekly, now that school is in session and typing for school projects frequently, my fingers as well as wrists have experienced great strain. Most notably, the symptoms manifest themselves in sheer stiffness of the fingers; it feels like moving stone rods rather than the tensile, flexible, beautifully engineered fingers, and the wrists being unable to move around nearly as much. 

The drop in speed, while not massive, is still extremely significant. For me, it is generally a drop of about 10% (averaging in the mid- or low-120), but more notably adding a maximum for my speed. Because of the stiffness, I am unable both to type as quickly as well as move to the next word as quickly. It is a testament to how important the mind is in typing that my speed doesn’t drop to the sub-110, but it quickly showed me how important it is for very fast typists to rest themselves.

Personally, I am unable to type for longer than twenty-thirty minutes at maximum speed without my fingers becoming numb and useless. This is probably such a short amount of time because I already use my fingers significantly in fencing as well as at school; but I find that unless I rest from speed typing for a day between overdoing it, the symptoms become progressively worse. It’s a simple solution; at one point the symptoms of repetitive stress were so great that I went to visit an orthopedist to see if I was experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome.

So, while this has less to do with psychology in general, it is quite easy to observe how the maximum speed of fingers dictates the mind. While my fingers are sluggish and limited, my mind is as well; it keeps up with my physical maximum speed. Therefore, while typists striving to get faster should practice more, it is often not in best interests to type as quickly as possible to try and get faster. For instance, I often slow down so that I can achieve 99%+ accuracy; not by deleting errors, but by not making them in the first place.

I do remember reading studies on Dvorak and Qwerty practice, and an important aspect was to not overpractice; two hours was found to be the maximum for help- more was detrimental while less was still fine, but just to a lesser extent.

Another post shall come in time, I expect it to be about psychology. Rest and respect your fingers.


One of the most important parts of our brains’ functions is how it processes different actions. Many seemingly complicated tasks can be separated into elementary, and therefore easy-to-perform, maneuvers by the brain. For instance, when looking at a complicated equation which one knows a way to solve, the equation ceases to be a set of numbers, letters, and Greek, but simply parts of a system.

In much the same way is typing. As a strong typist myself, having typed for a very brief amount of time, I say that the way in which my mind breaks down words puts me at an immense advantage to well over 99.9% of typists, whose speed I am above. Instead of attempting to compute a word as a block, it is broken down into chunks of easily typed letters. Perhaps I will occasionally remember the exact way to type ‘mountain’, which is a common word and long, but learning to type simple two, three, and four letter combinations through muscle memory, given their omnipresence, allows the use of the muscles most efficiently.

For a few examples, let us take a few random words: “flighty”, “jealous”, “then”, and “vanadium”. “Flighty” is a rather uncommon word, so it would take longer to process, and therefore to type. I would think immediately to type ‘f-l-i’, a rather uncommon sequence which would be slow, and then ‘g-h-t’, a more common order, and then a simple ‘y’.

“Jealous” is of the same length, but is broken down very differently. Because the keys “j-e-a-l” require the use of the left hand three times consecutively followed by a right hand, I use it in that way. It is very difficult to process a swap between hands as part of a word, but that will likely come with great practice. I digress; after the ‘j-e-a-l’, a simple ‘o-u-s’ would be processed, which involves a switch back to left and then an alternation to right.

One of the great advantages of Dvorak to me is the alternation. It is far easier to think of combinations in the mind as the period between the start and the alternation back to the starting hand, allowing sharp, quick actions.

Let’s return to the final two words. “Then”, while being four letters, is sufficiently common that I can process it as a single action, despite involving two hand switches; this shows that despite greater difficulty in remembering one process, it can be done given greater effort. “Vanadium” is a different beast altogether. Being, to most, an uncommon word, I would attempt to break it into the most familiar parts. I would think “v-a-n”, “a-d-i”, and then “um”, each simple parts which consist of many other words.

The ability to put these together is vital. Often I will experiment with how I set my mind to process words, in the sake of greater accuracy or something similar. For instance, my accuracy is increased greatly if I force my mind to register the first two letters, rather than just one, of a word before I start on it; this allows less random drifting in which I might have Freudian slips. Another example would be of ignoring the flow and simply pausing between each word to type it as fast I possibly could, which I have found is naturally conducive to a typing flow.

However, these techniques require a sufficient amount of confidence. An amateur, therefore, cannot type at extremely high speeds because it is not maintainable, the mind is not sure of how to continue. This is why flow state is traditionally considered something for the high-skill in high-stress situations.

I am very tired for the night, and I have stayed up quite a bit later than I ought, so this post shall be finished tomorrow or on the weekend.


Found Original Post

My name is Albert Chang. Among many other things, most relevantly I am a typist. With some background, I started typing using Dvorak in November 2012. After nearly two months without computers and sparse practice, I returned. As of the posting, my record is 143 Words/Minute, while an average is in the high-120 range, sometimes in the 130’s.

More interesting might be the reason which I decided to make this blog. I am fond of writing, and I feel that releasing frustration and anger at my own abilities through writing is rewarding and possible interesting to others, despite my moderate hopes for my posts. I will attempt to analyze my own performance and reasons why they occur. A basis and superior example would be the blog of ex-professional video game player, Robert Wright  ( who posts extremely insightful articles about game and general psychology.

Today is the first web log. After many efforts and extreme frustration, I was not able to break the 130 wpm mark at all today. However, I would like to spend time to analyze this rather than continuing to depress myself further with self-berating thoughts. In activities such as typing, there is no element of luck at all; it is simple the ability of the user to translate information into actions and perform them with complete accuracy. More specifically, the ability for one to convert words into finger strokes and have them practiced to such an extent that errors are not made and that the fingers respond readily to the urges of the mind.

First, I will say that I am an extremely demanding person of myself. Most activities in which I perform I have gotten into late, and thus I practice extremely hard to compete and defeat those who have practiced for multiples of the amount of time. I am quite intelligent, as tests and the like would show, which is probably the only reason that I am able to do this. Typing, specifically, is an area in which I have great demand of myself. Given that the website on which I conduct tests deletes results older than 50 tests ago, there is a constant pressure both to improve average speed as well as keep up a high ‘best’, which is often difficult, However, given the brevity of the time I had typed and the amount of improvement I had displayed, I had always managed to easily surpass my old best well before fifty tests elapsed.

That changed quite readily. Several weeks ago, my record was 137 words per minute. After over sixty tests, I had still barely managed to come within 5 wpm of that; and my record was reset to 136. Not a large drop, granted, but enough to remind me that growth is not infinite. And in the months since, i have had wonderful results and exceeded 140, and kept an average usually with many 130+ results. But they fade.

I would say that the inability of people to recreate very good situations is due largely in part due to an expectation of success. We expect to become greater than ourselves in the past, given the circumstances, but often fail to consider or overly downplay the amount of influence that a particular mindset has on that particular test. Because of the frequency of errors, typists generally cannot type as fast as their fingers can move, due to the fact that it would be unrecognizable. But given the right situation, the state of the mind in which it has intense, single-area focus can be achieved; namely, through repeated success of normally difficult tasks (in this case, difficult words) and relaxation.

As an athlete, I have read books on psychology and sports psychology, and one of the most interesting things that I learned about was the flow state. A simple diagram is used, some more simple than others, but always a graph comparing challenge level and skill level. Low skill and challenge leads to apathy; one is not challenged at all but the amount of skill required to engage oneself is not present. The greater the challenge with low skill, the greater the anxiety and almost inevitably, failure. The more skilled one is bored at low challenge and aroused at higher; ready to transcend and improve. Finally, the pinnacle of training, the people with complete control over their bodies and skills remove all the negative paths relegated to lower skill. As challenge increases, the emotion ranges from relaxation, to control, to finally the flow state.

The flow state is complete and utter concentration. Its achievement is influenced by the model between fine motor skill and arousal level; a simple inverse relationship. The least motor skill involved, such as for weightlifting, resoundingly gives greatest results at extreme arousal- cheering crowds, boiling anger, overpowering determination. But on the opposite spectrum, for fencers and sharpshooters, for instance, the mind needs perfect concentration to be able to perform at its highest level. To be able to ‘read’ the opponent, to be able to focus one’s aim and breathing are extremely difficult with a huge, roaring crowd. But in the flow state, curiously, we find that this is all unimportant. The focus leaves the surroundings, which are conditioned away by thousands, if not tens of thousands of hours of training, and all power is focused on the task at hand.

But I digress. Bringing this back into the realm of typing: the state of flow is achievable and amazing accomplishments which are normally unthinkable can be accomplished. But pressure on achieving this state are completely counterproductive, explaining why those who actively seek to set records are often unsuccessful. Despite any initial success, the focus of the mind drifts when not in flow and the fingers follow; by slowing down, by becoming inaccurate and sluggish to a point normally unthinkable. By relaxing, however, we enable the mind to shift into flow when the correct challenge is presented.

Alright, that is enough for today. Hopefully people actually read this monstrosity and come to the finish, despite the lazy path that I took by finishing early.


Note: 10fastfingers is the website I use to gauge speed.

Hand Position

My first post was a long one about the psychology of typing and somewhat a homage to an important blog to me, ‘’, written by a former professional Super Smash Bros. player. It was probably nearly a thousand words, but WordPress doesn’t like to autosave drafts, so here is a new, more unique post.

Before I start, I shall say that my typing format is not standard Qwerty, but instead a format designed for less movement, easier learning, and, some say, faster typing, called Dvorak, invented by August Dvorak, who happens to be a relative of the composer Antonin Dvorak. According to metrics online, it’s finger movement is generally about a tenth of that of Qwerty, and it is designed for hand alternation, that is, switching each successive key in a word between the two hands.

Colemak, a modified Dvorak increases efficiency and maintains Qwerty shortcuts (ZXCV) by having the letters in the same place, but instead uses ‘rolling’, successive keystrokes to produce speed, and it has a wide internet following, and I might have picked it up if not for the slightly stubborn bud in my mind which scoffed at the design to be based off of a less efficient format, and instead picked up Dvorak instead. I honestly don’t mind using two hands for shortcuts, as there is no point where I couldn’t take my hand off the mouse to paste something.

Anyways, I digress. The purpose of my first post was to discuss hand position. The classic hand position for all flat keyboards is the have the wrists centered, rather out of their natural position because the wrists are bent out but the arms are angled in. If the arms and wrists are completely straight, the ability to move the fingers around to type words is awkward and the height of the hands is restricted to only lower keyboards; ones on higher desks would be more difficult to reach.

So just by natural feeling and observation of ergonomic keyboards such as Microsoft’s Natural, the geekhack ErgoDox and the Kinesis, I tried having my upper arms extend outwards, and to have the forearm extending toward the center of the keyboard, a sharp angle which makes the fingers reach diagonally, rather than laterally, for keys. I find this to relieve the strain that my excessive typing puts on my wrists, by having them in an awkward position, and after only an hour of playing around (and typing this blog post), I type more accurately on speed tests and more quickly, as well.

However, it might be noted that my hand shape is not the normal; my palms are of normal or slightly small size but my fingers are very long and thin; without straining more than slightly my pinky and ring finger on my left hand can stretch between Z/O on a Qwerty layout, and from pinky to thumb they stretch from right between the two shift keys. However, I feel that stretching and moving my fingers at an angle eliminates a noticeable percentage of errors caused by lateral shifting reaching an unintended key.

Evidence for this theory seems to be supported that the fingers, as a hinge joint, are incapable of moving laterally, and wrist movement is instead required, but at an angle the wrist is not required to move when the fingers reach for a key because the angle allows the fingers to move both upwards and sideways just by extending. When typing with classic posture, I shift my hand for the G, Y, T, H, U, and B keys (Qwerty), while in mine I only must shift my wrist for are the B, T, and Y keys. Give it a try, and comment on how it feels.