Why Every Screenwriter Should Own a Typewriter
Long before the age of iPhones, iPads, and Personal Computers, there was “the typewriter” – where every important document, novel, screenplay, and thank you note was typed out and formatted on a metal piece of vintage sweetness. With the invention of PC’s and Macs, the typewriter has quickly gone out of fashion and into the parchment papers of history. It has become fossilized in the millennial day and age. But I'm here to make a case as to why the typewriter should make a comeback and be a part of your screenwriting arsenal.
1. Fluidity. Not having a delete button can do wonders for your ability to write consecutively. With a typewriter, once you've committed to a word, even a letter, you are forced to go full steam ahead and complete your train of thought, one that otherwise could have been erased without hesitation. This gives you the option to flesh out any and every idea you have and to give to it your full commitment.
2. Distraction-Free. Nowadays everything is a distraction. Your computer and its browser give you access to everything the universe has to offer, but that can also be a bad thing if you're trying to work and maintain your focus. With ads, pop-ups, and pesky emails, it's hard to give your story the attention it deserves. But with a typewriter, the only thing there is to focus on are the keys, the paper, and whether or not your neighbors hate your guts (it’s loud, we’ll admit). You're only present in the moment, which is a rare and special thing. No more texts from friends telling you about their drunken adventures at Dave and Busters, no need to worry about racist chain emails from uncle Jack. (We know Uncle Jack, we know. Get off the internet). A typewriter demands your full attention, which is exactly why we love it so darn much.
3. No Polish Necessary. When you flesh out your ideas on a piece of paper, you already have a physical copy of your screenplay at hand. You can just grab your red pen, make note of any changes, and give it another shot on a fresh sheet of paper, while also having your previous draft right beside you. Once all your notes have been made and transferred into a final draft, you can then type it back into your favorite screenwriting software.
4. Nostalgia. The typewriter was invented in 1867 by a man named Christopher Latham Sholes and it has been the ultimate tool used in the creation of almost every movie since (till about 1990). From All the President’s Men to The Post, typewriters bring a wave of nostalgia and remind us of a time where novelists would drink whiskey and type away into the night at candlelight. Therefore, I’d argue that the very presence of a vintage typewriter in your home can “put you in the mood". Trying to imagine how many scripts, novels and thank you notes were written on your typewriter by its previous owner is something that every vintage typewriter owner would indulge in every once in a while.
5. It’s a Ritual. You grab a cup of coffee, you sit in your plush leather chair, turn on your lamp, and you’re suddenly in "the zone". Writing a screenplay on a laptop isn’t really all that different from writing anything else on a laptop, but the only time you get to sit down and write in your typewriting corner is when you are ready to write your screenplay – there’s power in rituals.
6. Portability. Typewriters are typically too heavy to be transported with ease. That can be a good thing though! If you could bring it everywhere, you won’t ever feel like you’re in a working environment. A heavy typewriter is something you get to come home to. It forces you to set aside time for your craft and focus all your energy on it.
7. It’s Still a Popular Staple. Woody Allen is a big fan of the Olympia SM-3 Typewriter and had written most of his movies on it, and while we know that doesn’t exactly do the job of convincing you to buy one, it does go to show you that even the most experienced (and in Woody’s case, unfavorable) filmmakers still go back to the basics. Other typewriter junkies include Tom Wolfe and Danielle Steel.
8. Cure For Writer’s Block. A typewriter can be a great tool for getting rid of writer’s block. By constantly starting over when a mistake has been made, you become focused on where you want your story to go and before you know it, it quickly becomes second nature on how you need to get there.
9. No Auto-Complete. Without the luxury of auto-complete, you get to brag about the fact that every single word you type is your own. No outside help, no little paper clip man at the bottom of the screen to take credit. The credit is all yours and that can be a great or terrible thing, depending on how good your ability to write is.
10. No Auto-Correct. Unless you feel comfortable presenting an error-ridden document to your friends and family, you might want to consider one of the biggest benefits to using a typewriter – no auto-correct. Typewriters make you a better writer by improving your grammar. What better way to learn to write than to not rely on a digital helper that changes your language for you without giving you the opportunity to correct yourself. Auto-correct takes away the trial and error approach to writing proper grammar, which is why it’s so crucial for you to NOT use it.