Inky hands, correction pen stains, crumpled up paper, doodles on the corners… that was more or less my perpetual state as a writer when I was younger. Then computers came along and I migrated to the digital forms of writing, leaving my notebooks behind to collect dust while I sang the praises of Microsoft Word, with its pristine fonts and formatting options and the ability to start over and delete words with the click of a button.
Lately, however, I have been having difficulty even coming up with words to delete.
To be fair, when I was younger, I never had to approach a computer screen with a work mentality – it was a tool for fun and procrastination, but now I mostly associate it with translation and proofreading. I was also not involved with the Internet as I am now, and knew only a handful of websites. Social media wasn’t rampant, and my attention wasn’t diverted every few seconds by new tweets, Instagram posts, blogs, videos and forum replies.
I knew I needed to take a step back if I were ever to pull myself out of this neverending loop of distraction, disconnect a bit from my laptop, build my focus… and so I decided to go back to the basics. I think I went too far back though, because I bought myself a typewriter.
I had been wanting one for the longest time… and I finally bit the bullet and got it. And I don’t regret my choice even once (except maybe when a week later I saw the same typewriter but about $150 cheaper, but aaaaanyway. >.>). It’s a Princess 300, dating back to the 1960s and it works perfectly. The beauty of a typewriter is that once I sit before it, the only thing I can do is write. Even if I hit a snag, I don’t have the internet to escape to. I have to sit there and look at the paper until I write something. Anything. And I am. I’ve typed up about 35 pages so far, and let me tell you this – the feeling you get of seeing your words immediately leaving their impression on paper is just… amazing.
The click! click! click! of the keys and the ding! of the machine as I reach the margin and the soft vroom! of the platen as I push it back to place just keeps driving me to type and type. And when I reach the bottom of the page, the paper rolls out all crisp and beautiful. And of course I bought cream paper to complete the effect, haha.
It’s strange, but the tactile feel of your words as you write them is really encouraging. It’s as if you’re seeing your book come to life with every punch of a key, something the computer can’t do. It’s kinda similar to eBooks vs paperbacks/hardcovers in a sense, where I only feel like I’m properly reading a book if I’m holding it between my hands and flipping the pages.
I also went back to a method I used to employ when I was younger, when I would get sheets of paper and sketch or doodle or draw maps or write key plot points. So one night I brought out some colouring pens, a stack of paper and got to work, losing several hours in the process and once again getting ink all over my fingers. And it was great. I have really missed using my hands – really using my hands – to create something.
I’ve still not managed to completely detach myself from my laptop, but slowly I’m spending more time at my desk, getting to know my typewriter and all its secrets and mechanisms, leaning back in my bed with sheets of paper and bright pens. And I’m writing like I haven’t done so in a very long time.
How do you write? With pen and paper or good old technology? Do you have a typewriter of your own, or any special writing instrument?