We don’t notice how dependent we are on technology until it fails us.
Now I’m pretty flexible when it comes to tech. I can get productive work done on just about any device, no matter the operating system, software or hardware involved. But the one thing I really can’t compromise on is a good keyboard.
Often when I’m out writing in a coffee shop I play a little game with myself where I try to bring the least amount of tech possible to get the night’s work done. I’ve recently adopted a “one bag” (I used to carry three) policy with my work tech, and that’s been going great. I used to (and frankly still do) lug around a lot of things I don’t really need, because I wasn’t making decisions about what I was actually going to do.
So for a writing night “one-bag” becomes “tablet bag”. Now I’m still traveling with two tablets, a notebook, chargers and a crap ton of pens, but at least it doesn’t weigh very much. I even have a plug-in keyboard for one of the tablets, so I can turn one of them into a micro-computer even smaller than my old netbook.
At first I tried to convince myself that writing slower is good for me. Having to type and retype each word was good for organizing my thoughts, much in the same way people use writing by hand. Punching the keys as hard as I can is just a way of more physically engaging with the piece beyond just the simple mental exercise.
Or maybe the keyboard, particularly the space bar, was unresponsive, designed for short e-mail compositions of maybe 50 words, not 500 words synopsis. The evening was saved by having the notebook, so I could at least take some good research notes for fleshing out when I get back to a proper computer. But I doubt I’ll be taking out that portable keyboard any time soon.
I’m not used to attacking my keys. Most keyboards I’ve worked with allow me to apply light pressure to accurately type each word. And I’m not even particular about “correct typing”. Like a lot of people of my generation I tried to “learn to type” long after I’d already developed bad habits of using computers, and I still type in a way that never uses my pinky finger, often having it just pointing up in the air. Probably this will be responsible for hand cramps later in life, especially considering the volume of typing I do, but maybe at that point text to speech will be to a point where keyboards will no longer be necessary.
Writing by hand isn’t frustrating because at least my fingers do not rebel and write the wrong letters (though from my handwriting it might be hard to tell). I don’t miss spaces, and I can write at a speed a lot closer to the one my brain moves at. There’s definitely an optimal speed to writing, fast enough to keep up with your brain, but slow enough not to skip words or whole thoughts which you’ll just have to come back to later.
How do you do most of your writing? Are you as particular about writing implements as I am?