MY NEW WRITING TOOL: A TYPEWRITER
I have a new writing tool this week. It’s probably almost as old as I am–a Smith-Corona Super Sterling typewriter. The same model my dad had when I was a kid. Same color, same everything.
Now why would a writer with three Mac computers and an iPad Pro with the cool keypad and Apple Pencil possibly need with a typewriter that’s nearly a half-century old you might ask?
The answer is simple: it’s slowing my writing down.
In either The Artist’s Way or Finding Water, the first of the two trilogy books by Julia Cameron, she writes about many of her writing friends getting typewriters. But she also encourages in the daily writing of Morning Pages that they be done by hand–not on a typewriter and certainly not on a computer. Why? Because on a computer we don’t go deep enough in our thoughts, particularly with Morning Pages.
Guess what I’m finding in four days of having a Super Sterling on the desk next to my MacBook Pro?
I’m going a lot deeper in my writing on my novel than I ever have before when I slide paper onto the drum of the Smith-Corona and I begin to type.
Now maybe an argument can be made that I’d go even deeper if I were to write the book in hand, but I think there are limits to how far back I need to go with this experiment.
The reason I bought this respective model is, like I said, it’s the same one my dad had when I was young. From age 10 on, I also began using his typewriter to compose stories or whatever it was I was doing at the time to pursue a life-long dream to be a writer. I’d previously had a toy red plastic typewriter at that point in my life and it was time for an upgrade. Being able to use Dad’s mint green Smith-Corona put me on the big stage, or so it felt.
It still feels that way.
There is excitement in feeding a blank piece of paper into the drum of the machine, setting the paper so it is aligned straight, and then snapping it into place.
I don’t have to worry too much about typos. This isn’t going to be seen by anyone but me, but what comes out is intimate. Already. The writings are far better. I’m finding I can put myself in the place of my character I’m writing about. My character is living in the same period as I was as a boy. In the same location. With the same typewriter. I’m getting back some of the play I had as a kid. I’m finding some of the innocence that was lost. And I’m dreaming of a simpler time. A happier time.
But I’m also able to find ways to turn the screws tight on my characters now. I’m enjoying this. And it’s all making more sense now. This is what I’ve been needing.
And with the help this week of Donald Maass, Heather Sellers, Jack Bickham, K.M. Weiland, and Julia Cameron, I’ve found a new gear for my writing.