The BlackBerry Keyboard Syndrome: Side Effects Include Typo-Free Productivity and 300-Page Novels

Case Study

Nothing says productivity like a physical keyboard. The confidence and assurance it gives that you’ll type out every word as quickly as your thumbs will allow with minimal errors is unmatched. And as we’ve stated before “BlackBerry is renowned for having the best keyboard experience in the industry, which allows our customers to write and respond to messages with amazing accuracy.”

But don’t just take our word for it or, reviewers talking about their experience with the BlackBerry Passport’s keyboard (see right).

keyboard-flick-to-typeWe caught up with three characters whose words you can believe: Each developed full-length literary works in the palms of their hands. These writers relied on BlackBerry devices to turn thoughts into texts that don’t require auto-correct. Writers who had the novel idea to put mobile productivity to the test and crank out full-length books in the midst of meetings, standing in line, and any other breaks in between.

The authors we chatted with come from different walks of life, but have one thing in common – authorizing their BlackBerry devices to take their novels from work-in-progress to published.

Writing a Great Master’s Biography on a BlackBerry Smartphone 
Geordie Greig is the Editor of The Mail on Sunday. His latest book, the critically-acclaimed Breakfast with Lucian, was written using a BlackBerry device.

breakfastwithlucianI am sometimes asked about how and why I wrote my book about Lucian Freud on a BlackBerry smartphone, and last month I gave a talk to a small group of young journalists, bloggers and presenters about how I had come to tap out 80,000 words into the little device with my thumbs. I addressed an eclectic group of journalists who I met up at Sketch in London’s Mayfair to discuss the changing media landscape and the challenges that young media professionals face today. They were intrigued, not to say somewhat amazed, that I had chosen to write a book on my BlackBerry device.

For two years, I typed away at my book, Breakfast with Lucian, solely using my BlackBerry smartphone. It allowed me to be flexible in my writing schedule as my world shrunk to a three centimetres square screen. I tried to cram a lifetime of Lucian’s extraordinary charisma and impact (Lucian had at least 15 children and became one of the greatest painters of the 20th century) into that tiny space. This was possibly the first biography ever written on this small, black, compact writing machine which worked for me in bed, at sea, on trains, planes and automobiles, as I tried to bank time and space and thought for my book.

My difficulty in trying to write on a conventional computer was because of insane work hours. Editing the London Evening Standard meant I had to get up every morning at 4.30am. Yes, the middle of the night. It was pitch dark, not remotely like morning. The first edition of London’s evening paper came out at 9am hence the need for an early rise. As I had no wish to go to bed spinsterishly early in the evening I had to learn to bank sleep and also to catnap. I trained myself to sleep standing up in the Tube, in the back of taxis and even at dinner parties. I could sink into a semi-comatose state, hopefully unnoticed for less than a minute and wake refreshed. I became an expert napper. And when I was not sleeping I snatched writing time. Hence my BlackBerry habit.

Of course, it was not a sustainable routine for ever as I would often wake at 2.30am to get an hour’s writing and then go back to sleep for an hour. Somehow this fooled my body, or maybe I just deluded myself, that I was rested. Looking back, I practically had my BlackBerry soldered to my hand. I would then email myself so as to allay my paranoia that I would lose anything I had written. Then afterwards the big edit on a bigger screen. As Flaubert said, writing is re-writing.

Did my thumbs drop off? Did I get repetitive strain injury? Miraculously, no. I could write speedily and feel the same connection to the brain as when I held a pen. It held the biography of a man who never even owned a mobile phone, who rarely even turned on the TV. Lucian was carrying on the tradition of painting portraits going back centuries, building on the past, so attuned to capturing human beauty, foibles, flesh and soul. But mention a BlackBerry and he would think simply, some delicious fruit.

Geordie Greig is the Editor of The Mail on Sunday. He was previously the Editor of The London Evening Standard and Editor of Tatler. He lives in London and is married to a Texan with whom he has three children. He also wrote The Kingmaker, the story of his grandfather’s friendship with King George VI.

shadow axe trilogyWriting On The Run

Previous well-known successes inspired South African businessman Brett Restall to start working on a fantasy trilogy in 2003. But as a busy entrepreneur running a couple of small businesses of his own, he couldn’t find the time to sit in front of a computer screen to write and his progress stalled.

That all changed when he got his first BlackBerry smartphone, a BlackBerry 8520. Thanks to the iconic keyboard experience and the amazing battery life, Restall could work on his novel – a fantasy saga called The Shadow Axe: A Trilogy – whenever he had a few moments to spare. Whether he was standing in a queue or waiting for an appointment, he put the time to use writing or editing. “Without my BlackBerry device, I would never have attempted to write the book,” commented Restall.

He carved out the story a few pages at a time until he had something that resembled a novel. When his wife suggested that he try to get it published, he placed 50 pages on The Publisher’s Desk – a web site that brings publishers and authors together. Here, it attracted the attention of Swedish publisher Elementá, which snapped up the rights for his first book. Since then, the books have gone on to receive great acclaim from readers around the world.

Restall has remained loyal to the BlackBerry brand since then – over the past six years, he has upgraded to a new BlackBerry smartphone model at regular intervals. Right now, Restall is spending every minute of downtime working on his next book on his BlackBerry Q10 smartphone which combines the power of the BlackBerry 10 platform with a large, re-engineered physical keyboard and stunning touchscreen display.

“BlackBerry 10 offers a unique mobile experience that maximizes my productivity. Thanks to the keyboard that adapts to me, I can type faster and more accurately. It is a great fit for my needs,” says Restall.

shuler pic

Writing Lines While Stopping Crime

Before he bought a laptop, Douglas Shuler wrote three books on a BlackBerry Curve. A twenty-eight year law enforcement veteran in Columbia, South Carolina, Shuler credits the Curve’s ease of use and portability to let him work on his first novel, The Onyx King, whenever he could find spare time over the course of one year. The Onyx King is a 160 page historical fiction tale that was published in early 2013.
Shuler always dreamed of being a writer and was inspired by a relative to pursue this goal.

Shuler also wrote a children’s book on his BlackBerry Curve. The children’s book is personal to Shuler and his family because his daughter and son-in-law have had difficulties conceiving. Through prayer and family support, Shuler is anxiously waiting for the birth of a grandchild and to reading the child its first bedtime story – which he has written!

shuler pic book

Shuler credits BlackBerry with helping him fulfill his personal and family oriented goals, and firmly believes that “with my Father’s [God’s] blessing it is possible to be successful in America, and my BlackBerry Curve was the beginning of that.”

Physically Fit

Whether you’re writing fantasy, fiction, or memoirs, BlackBerry devices are designed to meet those writing deadlines while helping to make the best out of your time. Physical keyboards, like the ones on the BlackBerry Passport and upcoming BlackBerry Classic, have been crafted to improve written communication for emails, documents and even full-length novels. So if the idea for the next potential Nobel Prize in Literature comes to you on-the-go, you can assure that BlackBerry can assist to bring your stories to life.

About Brea

Brea Watts is a lifestyle blogger with a hint of content and social media marketing expertise. She's also an occasional contributor to the BlackBerry Business Blog, and a Bay Area native who loves cooking and creativity.

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