Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keeping in shape

20080612 typecast

9 comments:

Joe said...

Snap your fingers. Constantly.

When my hands aren't at the keyboard, they're usually snapping. It's a good work-out for the ol' digits, and builds up strength, speed, and coordination. I snap with both my middle and ring fingers, and after several minutes of machine-gun snapping they can definitely feel the burn.

I don't have any pinky exercises though; I should develop a routine for them too.

mpclemens said...

Interesting idea! I've never heard that one.

Luckily (?) I'm an eight-finger typer -- index, middle, ring, and either thumb -- so the pinkies can wallow around in the ice cream getting all Rubenesque. I never learned to touch-type, and considering that my work requires a lot of dancing on the punctuation keys, this is probably a good thing.

*snap snap snap snap*

Monda said...

Snapping. Well.

Touch-typing is fine if you're transcribing, but as a writer half the fun is watching your fingers make the typos.

If you've got Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" then I'm sure you read the chapter on sh**ty first drafts. I worship at that altar.

I say type like a demon for thirty minutes a day, adding five more minutes each week. Then snap your fingers three times and wait for Kansas.

More coffee now.

mpclemens said...

If watching typos are half the fun, then I have a lifetime of joy ahead of me. I pretty much keep my eyes fixed on the keys, looking up on occasion when I get the sense that something has gone wrong (like ten words in a row without spaces between them.) I've just gotten to the point where I can type basic stuff on the computer with my eyes on the screen. I've taken heart lately from finding out that some authors I admire (and not a few that I don't) are two-finger typers, and have been all of their career. I suspect that I'm typing mostly by muscle-memory, and with typewriter keys in *slightly* different places, I don't trust my memory.

The first drafts chapter you mention is inspiring, if only because I'm the type who wallows in the misery of the first draft, and decides that it's So Awful that there's no hope for it left. It's a habit I hope to break this year by having a real, on-paper copy that I can scrawl all over later. I've learned that I don't have the courage to print out a computer-written draft, both for the waste of paper, and because *gasp* someone might accidentally steal it and read it and then realize how shoddily I keep house inside my head. I see myself in Lamott's neuroses.

I also enjoyed Betsy Byars' The Moon and I which has a similar spirit. Any writing process that involves procrastinating trips to the freezer for a Snickers bar is tops with me.

Duffy Moon said...

Carry around a tennis ball and squeeze it constantly. Never go anywhere without it.

Actually, I like Monda's suggestion best. Of course, last year I didn't get into any kind of "shape" at all and finished my entire 50k plus (barely) words completely on manual typewriters. And I'm a complete wimp.

Strikethru said...

You know those things they sell in guitar shops... there is a square 'petal' for each finger, and you hold it in your hands and squeeze it to develop the strength in individual fingers of your hand? I had one when I was (ill-fatedly) learning to play guitar.

However, I type with four fingers, max, and those four are up to the task. Pinkies are useless, in my opinion. They may well drop off in a few more generations in favor of an extra texting thumb.

Duffy Moon said...

Speak for yourself, Cheryl. After a couple of years typing primarily on a carriage-shifted Olympia, my pinkies are both grotesquely hypertrophic. Finding gloves is a chore.

(I spat coffee at "extra texting thumb")

mpclemens said...

Amen to that. After typing away with the famed Olympia action, shifting Gomez is like a hard slap with a cold sock. SOLID machines.

My delicate pinkies still have enough sense to stay out of the way, though.

CStanford said...

Squeeze the nozzle of a high-pressure hose for 8 hours a day.

Man, that *better* make my fingers stronger!