Analog Writing for Digital Content

Computers, Writing / Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

In the next 24 hours, expect to see a spike in my word count to the left. I’ve been busy writing the past few days and today is going to be a day of typing (after I bake a batch of muffins and deliver them).

I figured out the secret to me churning out ~4,000 words a day. I can’t be near a computer. It’s a time drain for me (and I’m guessing most of you, too). I start clicking around, resolve to start writing after I read an article or go through a set of links, but that article always needs follow up or the link list gets longer. I get pulled into something and it keeps me from getting writing done.

If I write on my computer, I’ll occasionally stop to look something up. Sometimes it’s a work, sometimes it’s a statistic but no matter what it is, it ends up taking ten times longer than it should. My mind starts suggesting that I should check this or that while I’m paused from my writing, so I do. It ain’t pretty either. I’ve sat down with the intent of writing a measly 1,000 words and I end up only getting 200 words because I get so damned distracted.

My solution is simple. I don’t allow myself to turn on my computer until I’ve written my daily quota. That and I pour myself a strong cup of coffee (I had two cups yesterday and the caffeine high lasted all day, but I was productive). These past few days that quota has been ten pages in my notebook at roughly 400 words per page. You know what? I get the writing done and then reward myself by going on an internet binge.

Three days in the past week I’ve successfully done this. Now, all I need to do is type those words up. That’s the part that sucks the big one about my writing method. I write it twice. I try and stay optimistic about it and convince myself that the typing is the first round of edits (which it certainly works that way) but it hardly makes the process any better.

It got me thinking, what if I could write my stories by hand like I do now, but not have to type them later? It would be the perfect situation. I certainly could switch to a computer that doesn’t have access to the internet (or set a schedule on my router to block internet access during certain times of the day) but I have a good feeling that I would easily work around these things. I need the computer out of sight. Even without internet, I’m sure I could distract myself. I mean, seriously, isn’t it an industry standard to include solitaire with an operating system? I love that game.

No, what I needed was an analog method of writing that also has a digital, real-time conversion built in. I envisioned using a typewriter and scanning the pages using OCR but that’s cumbersome and prone to errors (at least it was when I tried OCR a few years back). I’d still have to go through and scan every page for consistency.

Then I got this idea that I could get a typewriter and modify it so a key press on the keys worked like a keyboard. In most cases that I know of, keyboards work using mechanical motions atop digital inputs to record keystrokes. I figured I could just swap one of the circuit boards from a keyboard and put it under a typewriter keyboard. Then I actually thought about this and I realized it was easier said than done. I’d need to find a keyboard that matched a typewriter layout perfectly. Or I’d have to chop up the circuit board and reassemble it in place beneath the typewriter keys. It’d be too much work all around.

Finally, I resorted to Google for a solution and instantly I found the USB Typewriter. It’s a conversion kit, complete with very detailed instructions, to convert your old typewriter into a desktop keyboard. I could find a long USB cable to run from the typewriter to my computer and leave the computer out of sight while I type. Perfect. If you’re like me, I highly suggest considering this as an option.

[desperately trying to insert a photo here but my connection to Picasa isn’t working, nor is Worpress for that matter today]

Smith Corona Galaxie Typewriter
EDIT 7-12-12: Photo is here now that WordPress isn’t causing problems for me.


Now I need to locate a cheaply priced typewriter. Preferably a Smith-Corona Galaxie like I accidentally won on eBay last September (I didn’t end up buying it due to problems with PayPal which I was unable to sort out at the time since I’m in Ukraine). Then, when I’m home I’ll get the conversion kit to make a badass keyboard that keeps my writing productivity up.

Feel free to buy me a keyboard or conversion kit considering my current income is, and has been for the past two years, $0/month.

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