A while back I wrote an article about collecting typewriters. I only briefly discussed the joys of actually writing on one, and why it works for me.
In my last article I discussed the joys of listening to vinyl records. I made the case that the medium is making a comeback. A commenter rightly pointed out that these claims are dubious at best. I would like to re-state my position and say that vinyl isn't necessarily making a comeback, but instead is kept alive by a loyal bunch of followers who continue to love the format.
The same thing is true about typewriters. Though they are far from making a comeback, there is still a loyal smattering of followers who enjoy the format, either because of Hemmingway-inspired romantic ideals of writing or because of the freedom from distractions. From the Kansas City Star:
The technology may be antiquated, but the typewriter is enjoying a renaissance among young people like Bouchard. Some are turning to the machine to avoid the time-wasting temptations of the Internet. Others, mainly older enthusiasts, are drawn by a sense of nostalgia. Whatever the reason, the continuing popularity of the technology has created a cottage industry for repair shops and has spawned dozens of typewriter Web sites and clubs.
Some find the tactile element of using a solid old machine therapeutic. “I love the sound, the mistakes that you make from using a typewriter, the time it takes to write,” said Nick Findlay, 23, of Sydney, Australia. Findlay uses his portable, shoe-box sized Olivetti Lettera 32 model, which he purchased in the last year, for all sorts of literary tasks, from typing up the shopping list to typing a love letter.
Despite the clunky limitations of the medium — keys get stuck and you can’t rewrite without starting over — many users insist they get more done on a typewriter than on a PC.
I, too, find myself relying on the typewriter for more writing, depending on the finished format. For instance, when writing a weblog entry, I usually write the first draft in a word processing program such as MS Word. I then edit and post into the weblog interface. Since the format is made to be read digitally, it makes sense to write it entirely in that format.
For more creative writing, though, I prefer to write first drafts on a manual typewriter. It slows me down and makes me think more of what I am going to say. I then edit and retype the manuscript into the computer.