Computer keyboards aren’t something that many people pay much attention to, but when you’re in the business of writing for extended periods, having a good keyboard can make a big difference, both in terms of productivity, and in terms of your health.
Your productivity as a writer does of course depend on a number of things, but the ability to type fluidly is certainly one of them, and having a good computer keyboard will always help in this respect. Unfortunately, the keyboards that come bundled with PC’s are not usually of a particularly good quality, so if you want something better you will need to make an additional purchase. The good news is that keyboards aren’t very expensive and a relatively minor investment could have a major impact on the number of words you manage to produce.
Consider the scenario where you switch from using a cheap keyboard to one that has been designed specifically for long-term use. Even if you only increase your output by a single word per minute, you’ll be churning out an extra 60 words an hour. If you write for four hours a day, five days a week, that adds up to 62,400 words a year of additional output! And if you bill your work per 1,000 words that’s a lot more income for a fairly trifling investment!
The health aspect of computer keyboards concerns two things: RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) and bacterial contamination. In the case of RSI, the longer you work on a poorly designed keyboard, the more risk you have of injuring your tendons and/or developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
As for bacterial contamination, keyboards are notorious for harbouring all kinds of germs, which isn’t surprising when you consider the fact that many people eat and drink as they work, and that crumbs never fall where you want them to. If you want to see how much dirt your keyboard is holding, turn it upside down over your desk and give it a shake. Unless you’re already careful about eating and drinking at the desk you’ll be amazed at what emerges, and that visible dirt represents just a fraction of what lies beneath.
I have to admit, I didn’t quite realise how important my choice of computer keyboard was until years of tapping away at poorly designed models led to aches and pains in my wrists. Those aches and pains slowed me down – not something I like – so I did some research and discovered that my symptoms pointed directly at the keyboard. After testing a few alternatives I settled on a Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard and I haven’t looked back since.
Ergonomic keyboards are better than standard keyboards because they allow you to type for long periods without your wrists getting tired. They achieve this by supporting the wrists themselves and by having the keys set in a more comfortable configuration for your hands. An ergonomic computer keyboard will take you an hour or two to get used to, but once you’ve gone ergonomic you’ll never go back!