Once a year, as part of my job, I have to pull out an electric typewriter. It brings back memories of typing class, the old clunky manual typewriters, and the thrill of sitting down to my first electric version. It felt so high-tech and futuristic. Like ‘The Jetsons were real.
Today, I plunked out a few test letters to make sure the machine was still working, and found myself typing away. Nonsense sentences that meant nothing but made my fingers move across the keys, pushing them down, listening to the unmistakable sounds of a typewriter. Of course the first sentence ran off the page because the margins hadn’t been set so there was no warning beep that I needed to hit the return key. Remember when the key said ‘return’ and not ‘enter’?
At first I thought it might be fun to write on a typewriter again. But after playing with it I changed my mind. First, there is a deep intimacy between my brain and the pen and paper. When I hand-write, I slow down, feel the letters and words, and immerse myself in the form. Which is fine until the story takes over and the pen can’t keep up. Then it’s time for the laptop because my fingers type faster than they write. So why doesn’t a typewriter sound enticing? Because I noticed when I was typing that more effort goes into pushing those keys down then in typing on a computer. And that minute effort, as little as it is, feels like a barrier between me and the story. The more I typed the more tense I became, as if I needed to somehow break through that block between fingers, keys, and paper.
So even though the typewriter was fun, I’m going to put it back in its dark hole for another year and stick to a medium that allows no barriers. In other words, nude writing. Which is not the same thing as writing in the nude…
Have you found writing mediums that block the words? What is your preference for writing with no barrier between you and the story? I know writers who swear by computers only, writers who have to have paper, writers who need the computer to create and paper to edit. Let me know what works for you. Maybe there’s even a typist out there.