The best bluetooth keyboards for writers who want to boost their word count quickly (and look awesome doing it)

This summer I’m determined to double my daily wordcount and establish a writing habit. I’ll be experimenting with various productivity hacks to get more writing done, but today I took a big step forward by getting a bluetooth keyboard to pair with my iPhone and iPad.

I’d already done online research and had an idea of what I was looking for, but I wanted to try out all the keyboards before making a decision. I need something I can write comfortably on for house, and something where I can get into that flow state and boost word count during writing sprints.

Here are the FINALISTS and my actual choice.

 

 

REJECTS

  • Apple Smart Keyboard
  • ZAGG Slim Book Keyboard and Folio Case
  • Brydge ipad cover with keyboard.

The Apple smart keyboard for ipads is really expensive, so I avoided getting one for a long time. I tried the ZAGG ipad case + keyboard but it wasn’t comfortable. Brydge also makes a great ipad case + keyboard, which was much better quality, but at this point I’d finally bought a cover for the ipad and was attracted to something not attached.

 

CONTENDERS

#1 Logitech K380 

This keyboard is well built, stylish and colorful… but it was heavy.

#2 Logitech Keys-To-Go

The Logitech Keys-To-Go is a wonder, super light and then, and nearly waterproof, but the whole thing is soft plastic so you don’t get the tactile clicking experience.

#3 BELKIN Mobile Wireless Keyboard

This keyboard is super thin, super light weight, but still feels stable, with a beautiful and comfortable typing experience. The keyboard is a LITTLE cramped, but that actually makes me feel like I’m writing faster (which isn’t always the case, more details below.

***WINNER***

 

BEST WRITING LAPTOPS & DEVICES

My current laptop is a 15″ Asus Zenbook, but I’m actually in love with the smaller 13.3 inch Zenbook, which has better style, better typing experience and is lighter and more portable. That’s my favorite writing machine, however there are unexpected benefits to using smaller devices with bluetooth keyboards.

I also love the Microsoft wireless keyboard (I have two of these) as my regular desktop keyboard if I’m all set up.

In this video I show you my current set up and process, and I briefly talk about Word vs. Scrivener and what I’m LOOKING for in a writing app or software.

 

 

NEXT LEVEL WRITING GEAR

Some of my author friends swear by the Freewrite by Astrohaus; which is a one-piece writing device with a small screen, but it looks a little too much like a toy to me.IFsadf

 

I also have a prototype given to me by the founder of Ilys.com, with NO screen – your bluetooth keyboard just goes straight into a little black box and you can reclaim it later. In that version, you can’t even backspace or delete, which forces you to keep writing forward instead of editing. I haven’t found a way to mass produce it yet but I really think “screenless” writing has a lot of potential – I’m going to test my new setup with just turning my phone around or keeping it in my pocket during sprints.

However the other thing I’m interested in is creating a MOOD, with ritual and high quality tools… as an artist, I’m attracted to the aesthetics of the retro-inspired bluetooth keyboards. I’m skeptical of these, even though they’re attractive, because they’re so ostentatious.

But let’s say you want to go to a coffeeshop and immediately let everyone know you’re an author working on real book. In that case, you might want something elegant, fancy, and loud – with that lovely click-clacking sound that is sure to catch the attention of everyone in the room (and probably drive them crazy). As you can tell, I’m not sold on the idea of these “narcissist keyboards”… and I’m dubious about whether they could actually improve writing speed, except for one thing:

Getting into a writing habit relies on eagerness to do the work and confidence that you have what it takes to get it done. I also believe sometimes expensive, beautiful tools that make you feel good while doing the work can actually influence you’re productivity and motivation. And make no doubt, these are beautiful tools. After researching, I’ve found my three top choices for writers who want the luxury experience. ONE VIDEO – show off all three. Compare. Then send tweet out.

Elretron Penna  

 

 

Qwerky Writer

 

Qwerkywriter Keyboard (USA Link) – http://amzn.to/2FPQJFm AMAZONlink.

 

 

KnewKey Rymek

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rymek-retro-bluetooth-mechanical-keyboard-iphone-design

 

 

Why I bought a $400 keyboard (a justification tangent)

I had insomnia and ended up buying the Penna Typewriter. THIS one. Because it’s beautiful. I love the pictures above. I wanted to feel like a writer, and create a luxury writing experience for myself. I wrote this justification argument after I ordered it… but down below I have some more details now that I’ve actually played with it.

 

So what’s the difference between a $40 keyboard that costs 10X as much?

Functionally, not much. They both work the same. Hopefully when I’m in the heat of a project, they’ll get out of my way and let my fingers convey the words that fill my story. HOWEVER: I also know, after writing over ten books, that writing is not all about functionality. You rarely just sit down and do the work. How you feel about yourself and the work you’re doing matters.

That’s why having a ritual, or special tools of your craft, a little bit of comfort and magic, can actually help you get the work done. This keyboard expresses what I want to become as a writer: I want to be known for aesthetic descriptions, beautiful passages, high-quality but engaging writing.

Is it a “waste” of money? On the surface, yes obviously, because I didn’t *need* to spend that much.
On the other hand, the point was to spoil myself, my inner muse.

If I’m inviting my inner child out to play, I need to bring the toys. If I want divine inspiration to show up, maybe I need to put an offering on the altar first.

Ceremonial magic is thousands of years old, and it works like this:

  • Choose what you want
  • Ask for help
  • Offer something in return

Whether or not it works isn’t the question. If you believe it works enough to boost your own confidence, it’s no longer placebo (the boosted confidence and eagerness may actually boost your wordcount). Basically, I’m training myself that my writing is fun and easy; but also valuable.

I’m worth a $400 keyboard, because I’m writing books that will earn a living.

Other random thoughts:

There should be an app so that when you hit the keys of ANY keyboard, it broadcasts obnoxiously loud sounds of a traditional typewriter… just in case people don’t see what an awesome writer you are, they could still hear it. Also, would the sound of typewriter keys clicking away induce the magic to start happening (the way the sound of running water makes you want to pee?) I think maybe it could. I’m going to make some long white-noise recordings of keyboards to share… I actually want to put together a podcast that is ONLY the sounds of famous authors typing.

 

Yeah by does it work though?

Today I got to play with the new keyboard and compare it to the Belkin I bought earlier. At first, I was a little disappointed: the wood finish is so smooth and light it feels fake, plasticky. The keys wobble a little, and seem insecure – for the price, I expected fine engineering. The Penna is also REALLY loud; I partially chose it because in the promo videos the sound was dampened or muted. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going to coffee shop or conference with it. It’s also a little bulky, and about as heavy as the 13.3″ laptop.

I did 5 minute sprints of each, using iAwriter. The Belkin felt crisp, like apple peels. I felt fast, tight. I had to constrain my reach and limit my keystrokes, but that brought focus. The Penna felt loose and sloppy. Soft like butter. I could write with wild abandon on the regular-sized keyboard, but I was making lots of mistakes, getting stuck, hitting the back key often, sometimes it took 3 or 4 tries to spell a word.

HOWEVER I was surprised to find I’d written 211 words on the Belkin and 277 on the Penna. That was in 5 minutes. In two 20-minute sprints, I could write 1662 words (which is about my current daily word count). Since the Penna is about an inch of the table, I’m worried about strain on the back of my hand, which gets sore muscles quickly from typing all day.

But currently I’m excited to dial this down: I think the Penna is an excellent at-home writing machine to get off my laptop and do serious sprints, and create an artistic ritual around my creative process; I think the Belkin is super for quick sprints in coffeeshops or wherever (although I LIKE the idea of sitting in public with something like the Penna, and keeping the recording device in my pocket, so it looks like I’m just madly typing nothing into thin air, but it would be really obnoxious due to the noise.

Now that I have the hardware, I need to figure out where exactly I’m going to do the writing, so it’s easier to write on any device and bring it into my laptop. Read this post next on best writing apps, software and programs.

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book editor turned book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors write and publish bestselling books. FREE GUIDE: Sell your work without selling out.