I think I understand why some longtime writers still use an ancient typewriter. Until this very moment of recognizing my old desktop computer as a familiar friend, I assumed that writers using archaic machines were resistant to the learning curve of new technology. I failed to see how anyone could not appreciate the shortcuts of copying a typed document onto disk, CD, flash drive, or simply transmitting electronically to another site. But I’ve experienced a light-bulb moment.
For many years, I’ve used a laptop with internal mouse at the office, and at home for research and general communication by Internet. I also have a tablet device. But when I want to write, to get in the flow, to escape into writing, I use my old desktop with external mouse and a keyboard that my fingers touch as if connecting with an old friend, a tactile sensation that is familiar and comforting. I’ve developed a habit of caressing the keys when I’m searching for words, as if the keyboard will respond to being petted and deliver the words for me. Maybe it’s a subconscious gesture to try to stimulate my brain, or perhaps just a fidget. I can’t say that this habit renders productive results, but my fingers like it.
The monitor at eye level gives a sense of communicating with someone. I look at the screen as I write, and I’m telling you my story. You are the reader, and I’m sharing my thoughts with you.
Unlike typing on a compact laptop, eyes and hands directed to a few square inches, sitting before my desktop feels open, natural, and less restrictive.
Some writers still pen in longhand on paper. Really! I actually know someone with that habit. I suppose this, too, is a familiar position for the body to assume when in creative mode — a favorite chair, a particular writing pad, a certain pen.
At one time, pen and paper were my writing tools. And then my new best friend was an early-generation notebook computer, pre-Windows, pre-mouse, pre-Internet, smaller than the laptop that now feels confining. So maybe size doesn’t matter. I would likely still be connected to that special friend, except that it became obsolete, unusable, and went to a computer graveyard.
What does matter is the distraction-free haven that lets me visit the creative zones of my mind, and the familiar electronic friend that records my thoughts and facilitates the creative process. I stroke the familiar keyboard and words appear on the screen. I’m in my studio. I think. I write. It feels good.