Using a typewriter to improve and inspire the writing process

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The image speaks for itself really… I bought a typewriter! It is a beautiful teal coloured Smith Corona Super G Ghia Typewriter, circa 1970. In all honesty, the name doesn’t mean much to me, I brought it mainly based on its colour and the fact that it was within my budget! I’ve had a scout around on the internet and the model also comes in bright orange, which is just as pretty but three times the price! Anyway, as soon as I saw the pictures of it on eBay, I fell very much in love with it, so I wasted no time in making it mine!

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So, why did I buy a typewriter, and how do I hope it will benefit my writing process?

So, I guess I’ll start by answering the question that everyone asks me when I tell them ‘hey, I just bought a typewriter’, and that is: why? Well, it’s pretty simple really. I brought a typewriter for two main reasons:

  1. To add variation to the writing process for increased motivation
    It is something a bit new and exciting, therefore I hope that it will inspire me to get my head back down and finish my novel drafting within the year. In very much the same way that new stationery can help refocus one’s studying, and a Fitbit can help motivate you to get in shape, I see the typewriter as something that can help me fall in love with the writing process again, mix it up and add some variation in the way I approach it. It is a novelty, but one that I hope will benefit me indefinitely.
  2. To give my eyes a break from the screen
    As a graphic designer, I spend a RIDICULOUS amount of my time looking at a screen. I get to work at 7.45 and get an hour of writing time in before work. At 8.45 I begin my work day, which lasts until 5 pm. When I get home at 6 pm, I either sit on my computer or watch TV until about 9 pm. If you add all that up, that is approximately 12 hours I spend, 5 days a week looking at a screen, and that doesn’t even account for the mindless social media scrolling I do on my phone. Being able to write on a typewriter gives me a much-needed break from the screen, and can offer relief from the computer-based programmes I battle with in my day-to-day routine.

What I will use it for

In terms of the type of work I will plan on using it for, I see myself using my typewriter for planning rather than actual story writing. Obviously, it is not easy to edit on a typewriter, and perhaps it is just because I am still getting used to it, but my quality of writing, grammar etc is pretty rubbish so far mainly because I am lazy with the capital keys and my punctuation. So I hope to use it for things like outlining, character sketches, scene lists etc, where the quality of my writing is not overly important. This way, I can write with very little pressure thus hopefully allowing for an abundant flow of creativity. Aim high right?!

A few observations so far…

I’ve had the weekend to get acquainted with my typewriter, and really, this has been my first proper experience with one. Heather had one when we were about 12 years old, but to be honest, I remember nothing about how it worked or even what we used it for! So, after a couple of days playing about with mine and using it to get some necessary character outlining done, I’ve made a few observations of what I have enjoyed so far about it:

  • I really like having a physical output of my work, without having to battle with a printer. There is something really satisfying about seeing hard copies of your work as you go along, and it feels good to admire the printed words on a physical page that I can hold.
  • There is a totally different dynamic when I write on it. I can’t edit, so I just write. This allows my creativity to flow with little censorship and, in the past 48 hours, I’ve managed to nail down many specific details of my characters that were undecided before. I’ve even found myself creating a new one, which I did not see coming at all.
  • As I’d hoped, I am more inclined to pick up my typewriter to write, than I am to pick up my laptop, because the typewriter exists solely for my writing. There are far fewer distractions – no internet and no Netflix. On the laptop, I may have the best intentions, but I have very little willpower so often find myself down a Netflix hole.
  • With the inability to edit, I am forced to make decisions. I can be pretty indecisive, so it helps that once the words are on the page, I can’t delete them. Once I’ve written something down I am more likely to commit to it, and less likely to waste valuable time umming and ahhing over details that, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t that important. Yes, I can change anything I want to at a later date if I need to, but for now, it helps to be able to nail something down and move forward.

 

conclusion

It is still early days for my typewriter and I, but I hope that this post can help some of you out, and at worst, has made for a pleasant and thought-provoking read.

Perhaps you are currently deciding whether or not to get a typewriter of your own and my words have taken you one step closer to that decision. Or maybe you are looking for new ways to motivate yourself or freshen up your writing/editing process and think going back-to-basics with technology is the answer. Whatever you have taken from my post, I’d love to hear all about your own experiences, so feel free to leave a comment!

 

Thanks for reading xxx

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