1 min read

Keyboarding and Muscle Memory

It is funny what the body remembers that the mind cannot recall. I have been practicing the use of the Colemak keyboard lately, and I am picking it up much faster than it took me to pick it up the last time. As a bonus, because I am getting it a bit faster this time, and I have had time to think over the form that I was using the first time, I am not finding it nearly so difficult or as tiring this time around. I think that this time I might actually be able to crest above the 80+ WPM mark.

The curious thing about learning this keyboard, however, has little to do with how hard it was to switch from Qwerty to Colemak as it was to switch to Colemak from Qwerty having in a previous time been very good at typing in the Dvorak keyboard layout. I have not typed Dvorak for at least five years, and I cannot even recall to you the keyboard layout without thinking very hard about it; even then, I would probably not have everything correct. Nonetheless, many of the mistakes that I make when typing in Colemak have nothing to do with my Qwerty skills. Rather, upon reflection, I realize that many of the mistakes that I make on the Colemak keyboard are from me typing the Dvorak keystroke rather than accidentally typing the Qwerty one.

It appears then that my muscles still remember how to type in Dvorak, and when I put my mind into that state where I am typing in “non-qwerty” mode, it seems that my muscles default into Dvorak instead of Qwerty when I make a mistake. Is that not a weird and funny little thing? You would think, or, at least, I would think, intuitively, that the keyboard I am most familiar with would give me the most trouble, not one that I have not typed in for at least five years!