Linda Maye Adams

Can you Imagine Typing a Novel on This?


Computers make it easy to write a book.  Type everything on the screen, and hit the enter button to go to the next line.  When you’re ready to revise, you can either print and make revisions on paper or it right on the screen.  But before computers, it ws quite a bit different.  I had a great-uncle who published books and short stories from the 1940s-1970s.  He wrote his stories on a manual typewriter like one of these.    This is what it was like to write on one:

Take a sheet of paper and mark the bottom margin lightly with a pencil.  That way, if you got into a creative rush, you wouldn’t type right off the page.  Insert the paper into the typewriter and adjust it to make sure it isn’t crooked.  Start typing.  The keys jump up and hit the paper, leaving the image of the letter.  It’s quite noisy, especially if you type fast.  As you type, the carriage of the typewriter moves to the left.  When you reach the end, you grab the lever on the right and pull it to the left to return the carriage to the beginning of the next line.

Very labor intensive.  Writers had to retype the manuscripts from scratch for each draft.  It wasn’t for the faint-hearted!

2 Comments

  1. I own two typewriters and have not been able to find ribbons for them anywhere. But I think I’d rather write out my manuscripts rather than type them on the typewriter. Those keys give me a headache. It’s almost a workout.

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    • Worse is making typos! I spent forever trying to retype pages of manuscripts and cutting and pasting because of typos!

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