I saw American Journalism Review intern Cory Blair’s tweet about using a typewriter for a week, and that got me wondering if the Times of London is still pumping typewriter sounds into its newsroom to generate some excitement. I sent an email to Times spokesperson Jessica Carsen and she wrote back: “Ah – the lovely sound of typewriters. Sadly the experiment has now finished, the clack-clack-clack was endearing for some, but not for all!”
The newsroom got to
put up with enjoy the typewriter sounds for about two weeks.
(Oh, and Cory, that’s really a lousy manual typewriter you’re using there.)
Update: I asked the AJR intern a few questions about his typewriter experiment and he responded:
What’s the worst part of writing on a typewriter? That’s hard to say. When I was getting used to it (and before I bought white-out) it took me 13 tries and about an hour to pump out a flawless 300-word news story.
That was frustrating. I’ve since gotten better at typing on the keys (it really is a different feel than a computer) and was actually able to type a 1200 word essay pretty quickly. But I’d say my biggest problem is if you mess up once, the page is shot. I’m going through so much paper I feel like I have to plant a forest just to make amends with the environment.
Another hard part about writing on a typewriter is the organization. On a computer, you can see the whole picture and go back and edit/move different parts of your story to make sure the whole thing flows. With a typewriter, it’s one-take, start-to-finish. You can’t write down ideas and go back and modify them later – you really need to know what you want to say before you start typing. I’ve begun writing outlines either by hand or on the typewriter before I dive into an article.
Oh, and hauling this thing around everywhere is a pain. It’s 40 pounds. But, overall, I’m having fun with this whole experiment.