Learning the Dvorak Keyboard

Back when I had wanted to be a medical transcriptionist, I had read up on Dvorak idea, and decided that if I was going to be a professional typist for the rest of my natural born life, I better do it in the easiest possible way for my body. I started that night on using the Dvorak keyboard.

I won’t kid you–it was Hades for me at first. There is nothing worse than striking keys instinctively and seeing only gibberish on the screen. It is a mind-bending experience. Typing is instinctive. You don’t ponder and think and wonder about which key to hit next–ya just hit it! I took two minutes to type one short word, and I thought I was going to die before I finished the darn word. I struggled really hard with learning Dvorak, and the only reason I stuck with it was because I believed strongly that if I was going to be an MT, I needed to do things correctly–I needed to know how to “really” type.

It didn’t help that I had a day job at that point, and the keyboard I used at work was used by others, so I couldn’t change it to Dvorak because my coworkers would not have appreciated the joke. It got so I couldn’t type well on either keyboard. When I was at work, half the keys I hit would have been right on a Dvorak keyboard, but I was using a Qwerty. At home, I was using a Dvorak keyboard, and half the keys I was hitting then would have been correct on a Qwerty.

Several months passed, and all I managed to do was confuse myself to the point that I wasn’t proficient on anything, including walking and chewing gum at the same time. This was playing games with my head, and I certainly wasn’t winning those games. I quit my day job so I could stay home and study full-time to be an MT, and after only a week or two, I found myself typing naturally on the Dvorak keyboard. I would only occasionally mix up a letter, but that was to be expected. After several months, I was completely proficient on the Dvorak keyboard, and made no mix-ups (although of course I occasionally hit the wrong key because believe it or not, I am still human. No, no, I’m not a goddess come to earth, although I understand how you could get that mixed up. Humility? It’s my finest trait!)

This state of Dvorak-only continued for a long time, until this past fall (August of ’06) I started at a bricks and mortar job that I had to, again, share a keyboard with another coworker. Because she wouldn’t have been happy if I had started messing with the keyboard, I had to start using Qwerty again. I was slower than snails at first, but eventually I got to the point where I could type fairly accurately in both keyboard set-ups. I became bilingual.

Then, because I’m lazy and it was easier, I eventually slipped back into just Qwerty typing. I now cannot type on a Dvorak keyboard anymore than the rest of you can. I killed myself to learn a new skill, and now it’s gone. I’m kinda sad about it, actually. For anyone contemplating making that switch, my best advice would be to only do it if you work at home and have control over what kind of keyboard you are going to type on. If you type on one keyboard at work and the other at home, you’re only going to drive yourself nuts. Stick with one, and learn it well.

For any of you who are interested in learning the Dvorak keyboard, read on to my next blog, where I discuss some sites and programs to look into, if you want to make the switch.