Reading & Writing

Typewriter Nostalgia

The nostalgia of a manual typewriter will never go out of style. The sheer beauty of the machine begs a writer to sit and tap out a story. Or allows a photographer to capture the intricate details that enable it to clank out type on a pristine page.

The typewriter concept dates to 1714 with a vaguely-worded patent for “an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another.”

Remington launched production of this modern-day memory in 1873. Early models left room for improvement as the upward strike of the type-bar prevented typists from seeing the characters as they hammered away. This same machine set the standard for a QWERTY button layout that remains on keyboards and texting devices today.

Times are Changing

Fingers saluted the electric typewriter for making it easier to strike keys faster and with more accuracy. Word processors gave way to computers that continue to shrink in size and price. Today, we type on screens of iPads, phones, and even watches. I dare ask what the future holds. 

As writers, our productive space is of utmost importance to creativity. What is your instrument of choice?

I prefer the effortless stroke of fingers clicking keys in rapid succession to record my thoughts. Heck, I dictate and let the computer perform magic. The ease of ‘copy and paste’ to rearrange befuddled thoughts parallels genius. Editing becomes child’s play (or not) but corrections become less intimidating. Automatic red lines underscore misspelled words. Right-click and a thesaurus springs to life ready to assist in finding words to better express prose. The internet allows instant answers to any question. I can relocate to the porch and continue on the iPad while sipping a margarita. ‘Control S’ saves my work for another day. A click shares my story across the country for advice or publishing. 

Being a font whore, I love a vast array of text styles depending on my mood. I add words to a photo to create, inspire, and encourage. I go bold or slightly lean for emphasis. Words transform to any size or color I choose. Magnificent. 

Imagine posting a favorite story to a blog as a typed page. Never mind, I’ve gone too far. 

The Old Clunker Typewriter Wasn’t so Bad

On the flip side, envisioning Ernest Hemingway on a computer lacks the wistful affection for the past. Jessica Fletcher typing Murder, She Wrote on a computer screen wouldn’t pack the same punch. Let’s face it, the cold, gray, metal shell lends little stimulation to the imagination.

Computer distractions impede the creative juice flow. Ping, a social media notification. Swish, another email arrives. Boing, Jen sent a text. Chime, Zach wants to video chat. Yesterday, my computer rang. Yes, a phone call on the laptop. Will the mute button shush all these interruptions?

A debate is possible on any subject. I managed to conduct one with myself. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. Choose which device works better for you, follow your passion, and get writing.

I prefer a computer but an antique Underwood adorns an inspirational centerpiece next to my writing desk. There’s something about an old typewriter that grabs my soul, begging to take me on a journey.