Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts on Typewriters

Typewriters may as well go up there with the old time cash registers. I'm old enough to have used a typewriter when I first started banging out short stories in high school where I took a class to learn to type. I'm proud to say I was at 60 words a minute.

I was thinking about all the paper I used to waste and the bottles of White Out I had smeared across mistakes. Putting together a good page that didn't need edits was an accomplishment. For me, having an immaculate ream of a finished manuscript was impossible.

Soon words processors took over and that lead to computers. Today we can keystroke carefree, knowing the delete button is a mere pinky away. That leads me to believe that before computers, a writer had to take care in the words they chose; in their sentence structure. Paper cost money and editing was extremely time consuming.

So does that mean we would be better writers if forced to use a typewriter? Let's say you were given an exercise where you have the first draft of a manuscript and you had to retype any page that had edits - the entire page. I don't mean from scratch. Just make a copy and retype it word for word. Would you be more careful with your grammar? Would you examine each sentence closely?

Of course, I'm speaking for myself when I say that I can blast through a bunch of pages, knowing I will go back and make sweat-free editing. I don't mean to accuse any writer out there of not trying to write their best. I just wonder if those young writers who have never used a typewriter would benefit from a little manual labor.