Gotta hold it once in a while

I used to write on a typewriter. It was a choice–I’m only twenty-one and I was raised on computers. When I started writing a few years ago, I did so on my computer. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had a problem that is widespread among writers who write on their computers: the Internet is sitting right there behind your word processor, shimmering with nearly limitless pools of procrastination to drink from. I, personally, was most definitely susceptible to these enticing pools.

So, in an effort to force myself to focus, I bought a typewriter. It’s a Brother, it’s electric, and it was just what I needed. I realized that I loved the sounds it made, I loved the way it shook my whole desk with its vigor (it gave a whole new meaning to “pounding away” at my WIP), and I loved seeing my words appearing right there on the paper. I wrote some letters to my friends on it, I wrote some short stories on it, and I wrote the first hundred and twenty pages of my first novel on it.

There came a point when I realized that I had the focus aspect of writing down. I just sort of knew that if I switched back to writing on a computer, I’d be able to do it just as well and get just as much work done, no problem. I briefly considered sticking with the typewriter for the rest of my first book (and beyond, maybe) but I ditched the idea when I realized that I’d already committed myself to completely retyping everything I’d written so far. I’d retyped a few of my short stories which in and of themselves were huge pains in the ass. I switched back over here for convenience, and I’m glad I did. Retyping those hundred and twenty pages was not fun.

But I do miss it sometimes. I miss the noise, I miss the feel of it, but I realized recently that one of the things I missed the most was seeing the pages stack up. Of holding them and forcing other people to hold them and tell me how nice and heavy the manuscript was getting. It may not seem like a big deal, but although watching the word count of my WIP climb is satisfying in its own way, there really isn’t anything quite like actually seeing your pages stack up. And there’s nothing that even comes close to the feeling of holding your manuscript as it gets heavier and heavier. It’s like a pregnancy.

So now, because the pain of retyping was just too much to handle, I type on my computer and print my pages as I go along. Every time I write ten or twenty pages, I’ll print them out and add them to the stack. I’m going to need a printed copy when I’m done anyway to edit it (after I box it up and leave it in a drawer for a month to steep, of course), so there’s no harm in printing it as I crank the words out.

Try it some time!

My current WIP, Iris (that’s the working title), is at a hefty 140 printed manuscript pages right now.


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