Why Use a Manual Typewriter?

My favorite thrift shop had a manual typewriter on display. The lady behind the counter said, “One just like that sold just last week—I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use a manual typewriter!”

I said, “Maybe the power goes out a lot where they are.” And then, “Maybe they just like the way they think when they use a manual typewriter,” and the people at the counter looked at me a little strangely.

I guess they hadn’t noticed that the tools they use affect how & what they think.

Gold plated claw hammer, given to my aunt Mildred Tiede, when she retired from the Stanley Works after 50 years of service.

Gold plated claw hammer, given to my aunt Mildred Tiede, when she retired from the Stanley Works after 50 years of service.

I know my thinking varies, according to the tool in my hand. The way I think varies with the light in the room, too.

I always start the day on paper, with a fountain pen, by candlelight, if I’m up before dawn. When I get ideas for art, or presentations, I may reach for a gel pen, and sometimes, a pencil.

I have never had a thought that made me reach for a ballpoint. Now, I won’t let them in the house. Rounded up every ballpoint pen I could find two years ago and donated them to the local elementary school for the kids who can’t afford pens.

I can write on a keyboard just fine, and I type using all ten digits as fast as I can think. Nevertheless, I create differently when I dictate. Some stories appear more easily if I talk to the screen instead of typing.

I am uneasy about the idea that children are not taught to write longhand, and that they go straight to the keyboard. They are missing something, and we won’t know what it is for years.

If I want to get all the good ideas out of my head and into the real world, I need as many tools as I can find.

If your only tool is a hammer, you’re a pretty limited carpenter.

(Yes, that is a gold plated hammer. It was given to my aunt, Mildred Tiede, on the occasion of her retirement from Stanley Works after 50 years of service.)

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