A few weeks ago, I bought an Underwood typewriter at a garage sale for $20.
The S and A keys are almost entirely rubbed out, the keys stick sometimes, and the space bar doesn’t work.
I love it.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to get it working somehow, but I’m just content to punch the keys and watch as the letters appear on the page in front of me for now
Typewriters have been increasing in popularity among creatives, and it’s easy for me to see why.
“Why would you want to use a typewriter?” you might say. “They’re noisy, heavy, and you can’t delete anything. If you mess up you have to start all over again. Only a dumb hipster would want a typewriter.”
Here’s why you’re wrong:
Typing Is More Enjoyable
It’s fun for me to type on my Macbook and listen to the click clack noise the keyboard makes. But I can’t deny there’s something infinitely more exhilarating about punching the keys of a typewriter. The ching ching ching sound it produces while you’re keying as well as the inner mechanisms working in tandem with you makes you feel like you and the machine are connected.
I enjoy using my laptop and it’s many functions, but when they replaced the typewriter with a computer, they left out one key ingredient: intimacy. When you’re working on a typewriter, you can see the process being carried out right before your eyes.
You feel just as vital to the process as the ink and paper indicator.
Some people would say that one of the typewriter’s weaknesses is that it can only type. However, I would argue this is to a creator’s benefit.
In an age where people are constantly bombarded with distractions, it’s never been easier for people to procrastinate. When a character isn’t doing what you want them to do, or plot threads isn’t coming together, it’s so tempting to check your email.
And if you check your email you have to check Facebook.
And if you have to check Facebook then you have to click on a funny Youtube video a friend shared, and etc, etc, etc.
Using a typewriter is like being on a first date with the person you’ve had a crush on for months. Your entire focus is on what is directly in front of you, and what you’re doing. Nothing else matters but the task at hand.
I used to be a good speller, then everything changed when the Word Processing Nation attacked.
Suddenly, I didn’t have to be a good speller anymore. All our essays were suppose to be typed on a word processor that knew how to spell the word for me. Since my brain found no use in learning proper spelling, I stopped internalizing.
A typewriter actually depends on your own spelling abilities, forcing you to exercise your brain. I’ve noticed this when I’ve written stories out long-hand and it’s definitely applicable to the typewriter. When I spell a word out without the help of spellcheck, it’s strangely liberating.
At least when the robots overlords take over, I’ll know how to spell “acquiesce.”
It took me a while to get the typewriter tape I ordered off Amazon to load up into my Underwood, but when I finally hooked it on correctly I felt accomplished.
It could be a pain at times just because I’ve never had to learn to operate this type of machine before. But looking back on it, it’s a lot easier (and less expensive) to try fixing up an old typewriter than an old laptop.
In fact, after a certain point, laptops inevitably crap out and you’re forced to shell out hundred or thousands of dollars to replace it
Typewriters don’t really have this issue.
All you need are a few parts and it should be good to go.
There are plenty of videos on Youtube that can help you along the way if you’re stuck.
I’m happy with how technology has progressed over the last few decades. I love my laptop and my iPod, and couldn’t operate the same way if I didn’t have my cellphone.
Nonetheless, when you want to unplug from the rest of the world and just create, sometimes the old ways are the best.