On Typewriting

ByAksel Satrom on Dec 16, 2022.

I recently found a typewriter. In my eyes it’s either a mechanical word processor, or a personal printing press. Its model is Royal brand, Quiet De Luxe. Besides being filthy, the only thing it needed was a ribbon change.

The Royal Quiet De Luxe on a tabletop.

Typewriters force you to ignore your errors as you write, or start over. There is no delete key or eraser readily available. One can either leave an ugly retype over their mistake, or use correction tape to cover it up. Being so used to computers, I cringe at being unable to immediately fix my errors. I think that is a great non-feature of typewriting, it encourages a mentality that helps writing get done faster. I enjoy cranking out rough drafts on my typewriter, but when constructing a finished product it is tedium.

Yet honestly, why would one even consider using a typewriter when they have access to computers? It boils down to the fact that typewriters were engineered to write, and that is all they achieve, while computers can do anything. The general feeling most people hold is that we do not use our screen time capitally. Often in our free-time we do not use computers to achieve our goals, instead we are sucked into an endless addicting world of entertainment from online platforms. If I was to do something productive on a computer, in this case writing, I feel as if I would be more likely to do so when sitting in front of the monotasking typewriter, then the multitasking computer. As goes the saying “With great power comes great responsibility”, computers have great power, but we lack the responsibility not to be gamed by their networked services.

In truth, I am not against computers if they are used to meet our goals. Like a normal American I often overuse my computer every day. Lately, I have been researching man’s relationship with technology, and in general am trying to lessen my computer use. For these reasons, It has lead me to think of ways I can use typewriters and computers “in harmony”. My plan is to use typewriters to get my rough thoughts down on paper, then rewrite them digitally as to take advantage of computer’s sharing and editing capabilities.

As a final note, it is easy to fall into sensationalism over various tools or workflows. What really matters is that we are able to meet our goals. I believe our work produced is more important then whatever tool we used to make it. So in the end, the typewriter is simply a useful writing tool.

Learn more

The Typewriter Revolution A Typist’s companion for the 21st Century by Richard Polt

"Why the Office Needs a Typewriter Revolution" on Low Tech Magazine