I agree. When I re-entered the hobby this summer I got back into CW and it was a little frustrating because I was rusty. I started working with the Koch generator on http://lcwo.net and also the random word, random groups, and other options. Copying random characters is incredibly dull. But it is very good practice for training your ear. Copying words is more interesting. Copying off the air is even more interesting. I would take a variety of approaches to keep it interesting. Don't resist turning the speed down to write down what you hear. This is training. Don't be afraid to turn the speed up and just let it flow - copying what you can. I think both are useful. I think the discipline of writing it down is important. I open a text editor like notepad on my PC and copy that way. I can type way faster than I can copy code, so if I'm not keeping up I usually know thats because I'm in a little bit over my head At really comfortable speeds I still write down the details. I forget names sometimes... was it John or Jim? Madison, IL or WI? At higher speeds I like to hard copy everything - there is more information. Usually at higher speeds you start to get into a real rag chew... You are hearing about someone's dog, their grandchildren, the garden they are planting this Spring... And it helps to have that written down in front of you so you can respond to all of it... I think struggling to hard copy just means you are at the edge of your comfort zone and you are learning... Practice, practice! Oh - I put an application on my Android phone, SMS to CW - every time I get a text message it plays the from: and body: of the text in CW on my phone!