Typewriters: Nostalgia or good discipline?

I’ve been looking at typewriters recently as some research took me in that direction. I’m quite taken with them and they bring back memories of using my mum’s clunky thing when I was young. A couple of examples:


There was a news report on the BBC showing the last ever production of  a typewriter in the UK. Linked to this story was nice piece called Five reasons to still use a typewriter, in which it referenced an interview with Will Self where he said he’d started using a typewriter for first drafts. Then I remembered reading writer and blogger extraordinaire Dan Powell’s post about buying and using typewriters.

Now I’m wondering if there is something in all this in terms of writerly discipline, or if I’m just looking for an excuse to roam the Aladdin’s caves of house clearance and charity shops around here, or worse, get embroiled in an eBay fest, both with the end result of picking up something I really don’t have the space for.

What do you think?

Writing on the move

A brief comment on my mobile writing setup, as promised. I have an iPad. A snug neoprene sleeve for the iPad. A wireless Mac keyboard, which is a pretty good size match for the iPad. An Origami iPad stand, which doubles as a case for the wireless keyboard. It all fits into a small laptop bag and is not heavy.

I have an app called iA Writer. It’s free, simple and strangely brilliant. And while I am waiting for Scrivener to produce a version of their software that is iPad compatible, the work I do through iA Writer can be synched to my other devices.

Hey presto.

I can go from this …

… to this

… in a matter of a minute or less.

I am mobile and fine tuning my list of preferred writing cafés and other venues. But mainly cafés.

Musical interlude

Anything and everything can be a source of writing inspiration, but pure enjoyment and escapism for their own sake are also valuable and essential. At a basement jazz club (is there any other kind?) I watched Emilia Martensson perform as part of the London Jazz Festival. While her music is not hardcore free jazz she was quite mesmerising, and I will certainly be including her velvety smooth tones on my personal playlist from now on. Music to write to and escape to, don’t you think?

Novel outline

The Guardian has thoughtfully provided a supplement. How to Write a Book in 30 Days contains a series of tasks covering the elements required in a novel. Accompanying worksheets are available for download from the Guardian website, and by using the method a writer can complete a detailed outline in a month. The method has been taken from the book First Draft in 30 Days, by Karen Wiesner.

To be honest I’m a little sceptical of such rigorous planning. I have a more romantic ideal of the story compelling me to write it. But while at times I am propelled to my keyboard or notebook, there are plenty of other times when I’m wondering if it stands up and how I will get from A to B. So I have embarked on the challenge because I figure even if it doesn’t amount to much it can’t do any harm to flesh out backstory and try to fill in some scene gaps.

November 1st felt like the right date to start and as it stands on Day 4, so far so good. If I do complete the last task on November 30th it will be a neat way to begin winding down the year and, with some time to reflect over the festive season, hopefully stand me in good stead for 2013.


P.S. the rather fetching green paisley print above the worksheets is my Cox & Cox ring binder. Stationery, people.