The Endgame Keyboard

Typewriters in a digital age

Typewriters have everything I’m looking for in a computer. They’re as quick as any word processor, never needs to boot up, they auto-save and they don’t have social media. Also, it’s difficult to edit what you’ve already written, witch is a good thing for me, since I’m too quick to start editing.

It’s like a computer, only no electricity, no screen, direct printing and a great big racket.

I use typewriters for most of my serious writing. Even this blog. They help me focus and just write. One thing I find very good is the constraint of half a page for any blog post. It’s more concrete than a word count.

I once used a typewriter on a long bus ride, and then somebody had a discussion with me about consideration and deference. And that put a stop to that.

I still use them at home, and in the office. My two favourites (I have seven) are the Olympia SM4 and the Olivetti Lettera 32. But for any social context, a more discrete solution is required.

The one drawback

So why not use them all the time? Well, we mostly write for the web, don’t we? In one way or another we need to get our work online. I’ve seen a couple of typists scan their type printed paper and publish as is. Cool! But I don’t think that text is easily indexed by search spiders. So, we need to make it digital somehow.

I don’t relish the process of rewriting, but when I type the drafts out on paper, I simply have to, don’t I? I can’t say what’s best: digital text up front, or a paper stage first? It’s certainly easier to find errors on paper. I use a red pen, and a green to mark out mistakes and good or bad ideas.

When my first draft is finished I sit down and type it out again. Or rather in! Into a computer. It might be a bit tedious but it works very well for me. Some say I do the work twice, but is that such a bad thing? Do I need to be more prolific, or more thorough in my writing? Would you read more if I wrote more?

Thoughts

  • This post is a reminder (to myself) why this project is important.
  • A better keyboard doesn’t make a better writer. Rewriting does.
  • A better keyboard makes a better typist.
  • Typewriters are too slow in a digital context.
  • I’m not Hemingway. (More like Cormac McCarthy…)

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