I have one monster translator who can translate a hundred pages over a weekend with only three fingers. Truly amazing, but why limit yourself? I was a few finger wonder myself for a very long time, but just imagine the difference between that and not even having to look at your fingers or the computer monitor while you type. I started from a three finger wonder, always alternating between looking at the computer monitor, then my fingers, then straining my neck over the paper document, sliding that little rock paper weight to keep my place on the page and accidentally not skip an entire paragraph, which sometimes happened. Always sliding that rock, fidgeting between this and that, until I evolved into that amazing murky world where one reads the source text, starts formulating the differently structured sentence in the target language, while the fingers blaze away unconsciously. The brain is a truly amazing devise. But to get to this level, you need to train your fingers to do the unconscious. For this you need to tell your fingers where to go every time you want to punch in a particular letter. With the three finger approach, you need to move your entire hand and watch where your fingers go, but with the ten finger approach, each finger has its allotted letters, and your palms are stagnant on one single point. If you are a three finger wonder, I can guarantee you that you will slow down markedly in the beginning, and it will take you a few months to get back to the speed you are used to. Yes, this sucks, but it is a worthwhile investment if you plan to translate for a year or more.
So get prepared for a potential drop in income, and commit yourself to the transition. It does not make sense to train your fingers only occasionally, but you start, commit yourself to the transition, so that it is as fast as possible. Otherwise you are just wasting your time.
So, very simply, place your eight index fingers on the middle row so that your left pinky is on the A and your right pinky is on the key one to the right of the L key. The G and H keys should therefore remain uncovered. Now, whenever you type, make sure to always use the finger which should logically go there. The closest, most comfortable, and logical choice. For example, I would use my right pinky finger for the P. And force yourself to do the same with numbers. It will be painful and annoying in the beginning, but if you have enough work, within a few months you should be back to normal, and then it will only get faster and faster, as it becomes fully unconscious.
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course, if you are not fully employed with translation work, you can utilise your time effectively by practicing on your free time, so that next time you do get a translation, you will be that much faster, freeing up more time and increasing your income stream.
For this there are many software you can use, such as this free online one, which will show you the results of your test (words typed per minute, how many mistakes you made). This way you can shorten the period it takes you to transfer from the three finger punch to an unconsious system to return your speed to how it was before you decided to make the change. It’s like playing the guitar or any other musical instrument – it’s called “finger memory”. You need to stay consistent for it to work, and stop yourself from the temptation to revert back to your previous bad habits. An exercise well worth your wallet!