I randomly bought a typewriter a few years ago in a charity shop (one of those fancy charity shops that try and look boutique). I don’t know why… I’m a tech geek through and through, it just looked cool I guess… And it was a bargain, I love a bargain.
That typewriter sat unused on a shelf for two years though before I even tried to see if it worked or not! Luckily for me, it did, but only after several minutes of pissing around with ink ribbons and trapping my fingers in various mechanisms and levers that kept going SPROING.
But why did I even take it off the shelf in the first place? Did my wifi go down or something? Distractions and editing, that’s why…
Distractions happen all the time, whether it’s my phone going off, or just the siren song of Steam calling me to play another video game… None of that exists with a typewriter, there’s no Facebook or Reddit to open up when I hit a hard moment, there’s just the tappety tap of typewriter keys and a steadily growing manuscript to the side of me.
Not only that, but I’ve been fooling myself for years trying to watch TV and read a book at the same time, or keep half an eye on my emails while snatching a few minutes to write a chapter. The truth is that multitasking is a con. I’ve been half-assing a lot of things for years, and I believe that the typewriter forces me to whole-ass writing (as long as I leave my phone at the door).
This is a real game-changer, I now sit at a desk with some light music playing (but not enough to distract me), my typewriter in front of me, and a blank wall as a view for when inspiration is needed. I find that I actually can spend a significant amount of productive time here.
Which leads me to editing. I’ve probably written the first half of my first novel at least five times now – I start and make good progress, then I get pulled back by what I’ve already written, falling into a never-ending loop of edits without making any forward progress until I finally give up and scrap the whole thing!
I can’t do this with a typewriter (or at least I wouldn’t know how to). What I type out is permanent, it’s ink on paper and is a pain in the ass to correct or edit once it’s done.
My latest first drafts are horrible to read now – they are filled with spelling mistakes, badly paced, and poorly worded. But they are written down, and the good thing is that I recognise these errors and problems instantly, so in my second draft I can spend my time fixing them and improving my words – not rewriting them endlessly just because I can.
Of course, this means that when I actually come to my 2nd draft and editing, I’m going to have to re-type the whole thing! I don’t see this as a problem though, it will force me to readdress every sentence and word piece by piece, hopefully improving the work far more than my lazy ass would without this step.
Anyway, end of self-congratulatory rant. I’m trying the typewriter out for a few months, and aim to use it to finish the first draft of my novel (completely, no rewrites) and a few short stories.
I may decide that it’s a huge waste of time and effort. Becky may decide she cannot stand the sound of the keys being smashed. Or it might actually work out, and I’ll have refined my writing process a little further!
I’ll keep you posted either way.