Tools for Writers: When A Keyboard Isn’t Just A Keyboard

Today I’m starting a new weekly topic on Tools for Writers, where I’ll cover writing techniques and strategies for effective professional writing. For today, I’ll focus on the tools of the trade: your keyboard.

The business of content writing isn’t terribly complicated at first glance. You check emails, you brainstorm, you hold meetings with your coworkers, you check your finances every so often, and you write. You write a lot.

A simple 300-word assignment leads to another 500 words, and another 500 words, and before you know it, you’ve tapped out 3000 or 4000 words before your second cup of coffee.

Professionals that spend a lot of time typing every day all have one thing in common: whether you’re an employee for a larger company, an author, or a freelance writer, you hit a point in your career fairly early on where you start thinking about your keyboard. And you keep on thinking about it. To the point that it’s all you think about.

For professionals that do just about anything on the computer, your keyboard is your livelihood. It’s the most versatile way you interact with your computer, as well as the people, clients, and customers you write to. A carpenter needs a sturdy hammer and good nails to stay in business, and even if they don’t have the best, most expensive equipment, they can justify splurging a little if they know exactly what they’re looking for.

Writers and their keyboards are the same: there are plenty of high-price, top-quality keyboards on the market, but as long as you know what you like and what you’re looking for in a keyboard, you can usually find exactly what fits your needs—even if it’s a little pricier than usual.

The point is to know what is important to you and then, find the best tool for the job.

Personally, I’m kind of a keyboard fanatic. I went all out when I decided to be serious about my keyboard preferences, and I ended up spending months doing research on how different keyboards work, what might be best for me, and where I could find a good price.

There are a lot of things to consider: soft keys or cherry switches, which wireless frequency has the best response, ergonomic layout, etc. I weighed these into my decision and if you are a serious writer – so should you!

I finally settled on the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 for my choice keyboard. The contoured key layout makes reaching keys easier from a more relaxed seat position, and the wrist rest is comfortable if you like having something to drop yours on—I try to keep my wrists elevated like you’re supposed to, but I get lazy every so often. I edit images and video as well, and the division between keys right down the middle means that I can more easily organize groups of hotkeys and shortcut buttons to help me put my ideas into my work faster.

If you’re the type that likes a little visual reminder of what shortcut keys are where, there are all kinds of hotkeys and specialty shortcut buttons you can program to your taste. Just another reason I suggest this keyboard. Of course, this isn’t the only keyboard out there with this feature but it is yet another thing to consider when shopping.

Some of my computer programmer friends enjoy their mechanical keyboards, with their wonderfully “clicky” physical switches and sturdy frames. I know other programmers and creative designers that are happy with their Macbook Pro keyboard and don’t need anything more than that. Again, it’s all up to your preference. The point is to be intentional about your purchase and know there are a lot of options.

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal choice and application: what do you like in a keyboard, what do you hate, and what will you need it for. Whether you’re an executive trading stocks, a copywriter for a content writing service, an aspiring novelist, or just looking into a change of pace for your personal computer, your keyboard is one of the first writing tools you should consider.


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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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