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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Turn Off Your Monitor For An Authentic Experience

When I first started writing, many many years ago my first draft was often scrawled out in longhand. It usually wasn't until the 2nd or 3rd draft that I would type it up.

Yes, I said "type."

I still fondly remember my Mom's Underwood typewriter. That beautiful heavy and glorious machine that, when you struck the right keys, small pieces of metal with a thick black inky residue on them flew towards a sheet of paper and left a permanent mark there.

In my early teen years I used to spend hours at that keyboard doing nothing more than stringing words together or composing the next draft of a story. I remember that time as being somewhat magical.

I also still remember my first experience using an electronic typewriter, one in which you could compose an entire line on a tiny screen before hitting "ENTER" and having that text transposed onto the page.  From there, I had tried out a friend's word processor. Same sort of deal, but you could compose whole pages on a screen before committing them to paper. And all this "computer" did was word processing. Around the same time I used such word processing programs on my Commodore 64 and Amiga computers as Pocket Writer to do the same thing.

Then WordPerfect was the go-to place for word processing, and more recently Word.

But sometimes, particularly on days when I'm so damn distracted by the online connections, pop-up emails, the luring tweet from twitter, the buzz of a Facebook chat, my writing output can really suffer.

And yes, there are multiple applications out there allowing a writer to systematically disconnect from all the internet distractions for either a set time period or until a particular word count is reached.



But this USB Typewriter, which I discovered on Melvillehouse Publishing's Mobylives blog, is the perfect thing that might allow me to remember the "glory days" of what it was like to actually be "alone" in a room with my muse, the clack clacking of my typewriter as audible evidence that I was producing new material.

Yes, it's a USB Typerwriter that allows you to type on an old fashioned typewriter and have the text display on a computer screen or iPad. And I love the part where the demo video states "Turn off your monitor for an authentic experience."



Seeing this makes me wonder if there is a part of my muse that sits patiently at such a devise and awaits me. Just hearing the clackety clack from this video brings back some amazing audio memories of hours spend pounding hard on that old Underwood's keys, at the frustration, when I was consumed with desperately trying to type so fast that the keys themselves collided and jammed together; at making a type at the very end of a page (before owning the correction tape that allowed you to type over that mistake), at being so absorbed in the writing itself that you were not paying attention to the fact that you were at the end of the page and needed to load a fresh sheet into the typewriter.

Yes, there were frustrations involved in typing manuscripts that way, but they were a different sort than the distractions that abound in being connected while composing.

I love the concept of being able to type to a sheet, stirring up physical and audio memories of my earliest writing sessions, but then also having those words captured in a word processing document. The best of both words. 

I've GOT to get me one of these . . .

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