What If The Queen Should Die?

By John-Paul Flintoff

A literary-historical adventure, based on the true story of Britain's most tragic queen

Sunday, 2 November 2014

How many words have you typed in your lifetime?

This morning my daughter told me she didn't like touch-typing. "It's too slow," she said. 

She's not been doing it for long, and it still feels better to use two index fingers. 

It was one of those moments that made me pause, and see my life entirely afresh. Specifically, I saw that something I've taken entirely for granted - something I'm doing right this second - is incredibly valuable.

I only learned to touch-type in order to get jobs as a secretary - better paid, and more comfortable, than any other holiday job I'd had. I was a student, and money was short. Enrolling on a course for better paid holiday jobs seemed like quite a risk (It hadn't occured to me that I might make a living as a writer). Would anybody want a male secretary? Was I wasting my money?

On the course, the trainers told us that no matter how good you may be at typing with two fingers, you never get much faster than 35 words per minute. But with touch-typing, they promised, you can go twice as fast - 100 wpm, and more. 

After working as a secretary, I trained as a journalist, and went on to type a great deal indeed. Far more words than appeared in print, anyway: all my research, interview notes etc. As an author, I have typed out six books (yes, six, including the one I'm crowdfunding here). And as a human being, I've rattled out gazillions of emails, blog posts etc. To guess the total number of words can never be more than that - a guess. But my (utterly unscientific) guess is that I've touch-typed somewhere between 2 million and 4 million words. 

If I'd not bothered to learn touch-typing, and had stuck with two-finger typing instead, I would by now either have:

  1. typed less than half as many words - half as many articles, books, blog posts and emails, or 
  2. spent more than twice as long sitting at the keyboard to generate the same amount of material.

This makes that typing course look like the most incredibly good value. Hurrah hurrah hurrah.

What have YOU invested in, that has brought anything like a similar benefit - but that you have subsequently taken for granted?

Please take the time to think of something - and then buy yourself a little treat to celebrate.

Back to project page
Share on social


Henriette B. Stavis
 Henriette B. Stavis says:

What a wonderful anecdote! My Dad let me play with his ancient typewriter, allowing me to write and illustrate my own little stories as a young child. Not until much later, did I realize that his ulterior motive was to teach me to type properly. In the last months of his life, he ridiculed my two-finger typing on the iPad and reminded me that I knew better.

posted 7th November 2014

John-Paul Flintoff
 John-Paul Flintoff says:

What a smart dad!
I feel like I should confess to a similar motive... not quite paid off yet.
I would love to watch somebody touch-typing on iPad - not something I've ever managed. Presumably there are films of this kind of thing on YouTube...

posted 21st November 2014

Top rewards

67 pledges


E-book edition.
Buy now
£20  + shipping
99 pledges


1st edition hardback and the ebook edition