Manual typewriter in the blogging workflow


This is my second typewritten blog post in six years. I think I did a better job than the first time I used a typewriter to blog.

This time I got the old Lettera 22 “calibrated”. That means understanding it’s personality (quirks). I was extra nice to it. Dusted. Cleaned. Gave it a fresh ribbon. Practiced. The only way to know its rhythms. Thus learnt to manage its primary quirk. Its insistence on inserting a space among the letters of a word if your try to rush. The reason for the exercise is simple. Writing with a manual typer is such fun.

In the 21st century, most writings (typings) on using a manual typewriter is about the experience of using it. Once the newness of the experience wears off: we go digital again. The typer gathers dust. To defy this trend, I will try to change the topic. But right now the wild joy of this thing is making me rush. I pay with a string of holes in my words. Never mind. Onward.

There is a physicality to using this thing. Its beyond the timid scratches of a pencil or pen. You have to slowdown to a pre digital pace. The pace of a time before double ruled book trained hand writing was reduced to illegible scrawls by computer keyboards.

The punching motion of typing on a manual creates its own way of saying things. As you punch and pound words magic themselves from under little hammers. Your fingers may ache but the momentum carries you ahead of second thoughts. The first thoughts are out of your head and in the world before you know it.

Now I understand why those who wrote with manuals are brave. Your words were physical in an instant. Inhibitions could not backspace difficult things without confronting what came out. There were no passwords to protect you if the KGB burst in. Without doing laborious things with carbons your life’s work has no backup. Bravery was a basic requirement of using a typer. Few actually had it. Which is where the Vodka, the whisky or the opiate of the moment came in. An easy way to summon courage out of its burrow. Long enough to get the words out of the head.

My “writing” this on a typer is different. The original ideas got spat out on the Lettera 22. Then it got digitised via OCR. THEN the editorial machetes did their thing. Compare this text to the image below and you’ll see. Heresy yes. But an effective way to write. Fun too. The noise the thing makes. Its music. The best music I can make. Or ever will.

Type written blog post
Actual typewritten draft
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