Since this is a blog by a group of writers, it only seems appropriate that we take a moment to get practical and discuss some writer's tools.
One of the essential tools for any writer is her computer and a good keyboard. But are all keyboards alike? Of course not. Some have split keyboards, some have different weights to the keys, some have fancy buttons for added features. But most writers are surprised to hear that I've written all of my books using a different keyboard layout.
My favorite way to type is using a layout called the Dvorak layout, which comprises an entirely different placement of the keys on the board. It's easy to switch to this layout in Windows right from the Regional and Language Options tool in the Control Panel. I started typing in this layout years ago to battle the possibility of carpel tunnel syndrome. I've not had pain from typing since. Here's what it looks like:
Funny, huh? The normal keyboard layout, called the QWERTY layout (named for the first 6 letters on the top row), was actually created to make us type slower. When typewriters were first created, people learned to type very fast on them. Unfortunately, the striking keys would always get stuck together, so manufacturers realized they needed to do something to slow typers down. In response, they switched keys around to make the most common keys in harder to reach places. Of course, with computers, this is no longer a problem, but we're stuck with a layout from an ancient system.
The Dvorak layout does just the opposite. The most commonly used keys are on the home row and off your strongest fingers. I 'm actually able to type faster now, with less movement than before. Here's a fun comic explaining how the Dvorak keyboard works, along with a tutorial and more.
Of course, this messes me up a little when I go to use someone else's computer, but with a little refreshing, I can go back to QWERTY if needed (it's like riding a bike--you never forget).
Anyway, if you've been wanting to try something new, I encourage you to give the Dvorak layout a chance, if nothing else than just because it's fun. I learned the layout in just a few weeks since I forced myself to use it when doing regular work.
Let me know of your progress! :)