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How a Mechanical Keyboard Helps Me Write More, Everyday

Chances are you've come across mechanical keyboards somewhere on the internet. Maybe while shopping for a replacement on the river or the bay, or maybe you've even come across the r/mechanicalkeyboard subreddit, and been perplexed by their cryptic language. I had briefly looked into their world once or twice, and never really got the appeal. I had my doubts about mechanical keyboards, What is actually the big deal with them? Are they just louder? Clackier? Is the appeal based on switching out the keys for prettier colors?

Well, to some extent, the answer to those questions is yes! From my very limited experience, there are within the community of keyboard enthusiasts people who like it for any or all of those reasons, along with plenty of other reasons. People like to build their own custom keyboards, with custom macros to accomplish specific tasks. They like the feeling of typing on a mechanical, with its springy, responsive keys. Or they like pretty colors on their keyboard, or some combination of all those factors.

A friend recently gifted me a mechanical keyboard, after I had expressed some curiosity. It's an RK61, a lovely and sturdy model that is, in all honesty, a pleasure to type on. The 61 refers to the number of keys, the keyboard type is also referred to as a 60%, which refers to its size compared to a full size keyboard. None of the keys are smaller, which was my initial concern; rather, you lose the ten-key and dedicated navigation keys, as well as the function row. You're left with pure, distilled keyboard.

The movement of the keys feels great, even more so when I compare it to my other, non-mechanical keyboards. It's springy and fast, with a nice click that really sounds great when your fingers are flying across the keys. I also have a few colors of keys, meaning I can customize the look of the keyboard to my little heart's content.

But none of these is the reason I am writing more words, more often, with my mechanical keyboard. Okay, I do find that it feels better to type on, but that's never been the reason I write.

Part of my recent success has been tied to the small form factor of the 60% keyboard. It means I don't have dedicated arrow keys, so if I want to navigate with the error keys I have to hold the Fn key with my pinky. This has changed the way I write, because I have long been overly precious with my writing. I wouldn't allow myself to leave typos behind, and was always worried about having a clean draft. I would jump around with the arrows keys, using Ctrl+Arrows to jump whole words or paragraphs at a time.

Small keyboard, with no arrow or Function keys.
This is my keyboard. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I can't do this anymore! The right Ctrl key is an arrow key, and the left one maps with the Fn key to something else entirely, so arrow navigation is slow. I don't go back and change typos. I leave them there, with glaring red lines underneath, to be tidied up later.

I have resolved to just press on, keep writing, and not go back and try to make things perfect.

It has taken some adjustment, and it's not a miracle cure, but it has been transformative for my writing. Where once I was happy to reach 700 words in a whole day of writing, lately I've been reaching that in 20 to 30 minutes. I've been more productive by leaps and bounds, allowing me to work on multiple projects with more progress than I once was making while focused on only one.

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