It has been a week since I started learning the Norman keyboard layout. I went “cold turkey”, diving right into the new layout after just a couple of days. During the first few days, typing required a conscious effort to watch where my fingers were going, and where each key was supposed to be. I made lots of mistakes, which slowed me down somewhat. By the end of the first week, I found myself getting gradually more comfortable with the new layout.
Most of the keys on the home row were easy to learn, except the h which had moved from the index finger to the pinkie on the right hand. The keys that moved to the top row—d, f, k, j, r and l proved to be a little bit more tricky, and I had to pay attention to which letters were on that row. When I did not pay attention, my fingers had a lazy tendency to stay on the home row, resulting in a barrage of rubbish characters.
On a positive note, I noticed a significant reduction in the amount of travel needed by my fingers . Most of my typing occurred on the home row, and there were several words, like the, noise and none that could be typed by using only the home row keys. This was difference was confirmed when I tried some typing in QWERTY, and was surprised by how much my fingers had to move. Some common letter combinations, such as tion, soon became familiar and my fingers knew exactly how to execute them with minimal effort. Reduced finger travel led to greater comfort overall. However, as getting the right keys still required concentration on my part, I found myself pounding on the keys harder than I should be, something that I will be trying to fix in the coming week.
Qualitatively, my typing speed increased from 26 wpm to 45 wpm in Norman, while my QWERTY speed remained in the high 80s (after a couple of minutes for my brain to do the switch). Not bad for a week of practice!