This past week left me deprived of my computer, cut off the internet and thus my Emails, social networks and inane pleasantries. What it came down to was a week of calm. A week that did not rush away as fast as it does when I’m trying to catch up with everything that is thrown my way online. A week of digesting research and information for a writing project I am developing. A week in which I sharpened my pencils and dusted off my ninety-year-old typewriter to live up to their original splendor.
I returned to the basics and indulged in the sound of the keys jamming words on my sheets of paper. That ringing sound when I reached the end of a page still so familiar to my ears. I fell in love with the font again, so beautifully old-fashioned and elegant. And I learned to really pay attention to my typing again because it’s such an ordeal to erase a typo on paper and make your text look presentable. Using a typewriter makes it impossible to multitask, at least after years of unlearning to be precise. Computers make it so easy for us – spell checks, dictionaries and formatting. Everything can be fixed, altered and adapted. Not so on a typed up page – you either do it right or you have to do it again. Lesson number one if you aspire to tackle the talents of Della Street (the reason why I inherited my typewriter in the first place).
Tom Hanks recently admitted to writing on a typewriter. He said it asks him to be more considerate. Words cannot be so easily changed and erased. The creation of a paragraph or a sentence requires so much more responsibility and devotion to your storyline when you sit and type it in style. There are writers who have expressed their frustration with infinite procrastination routines when their computers are connected to the internet. And a friend of mine even swears she cannot feel her story or characters unless she uses a pencil or a pen. Personally, I have always loved to scribble down ideas in my notebooks but I scarcely turned to my typewriter to embrace the possibilities of slowing down a little, of actually capturing the nature of my writing. Now that I’ve started doing so by necessity I know the difference, feel it in my heart and head.
Does that mean that I will abandon my computer and start living in the 50s (like a dear friend suggested when I was praising my dial plate phone)?! Hardly so. But on occasion it does make sense to explore what we really need in our lives, what we like and prefer – every person for herself. And I prefer to be a little less dependent on contemporary technology in my personal life and gladly return to what’s essential: my imagination, a new ink ribbon and a better sense of time.