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 (compete-complete.com) 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.