Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

No longer the victim of second thoughts

Newspaper journalists in my youth wrote straight to the typewriter. A rate of 1000 words/hr was considered the norm, which meant that in later years - when style also became important - I had to learn how to slow down.

If you type at 1000 words/hr the most frequently used letter is x. That's how you delete. More than three major deletions in the opening paragraph (known then as the "intro") and you tore the paper from the roller and threw it crumpled on the floor. Restarting was tedious because of the need to include two sheets of normal paper and a sheet of carbon paper. Occasionally you inserted the carbon in wrong way up. Bad news. The photocopier had yet to be invented.

Can you imagine the impact the word processor had on the way I wrote? I could test a sentence. Test combinations of sentences. Delete the lot and adopt a completely different approach. Words became like putty rather than accusatory wrong things staring up from wasted paper. The word processor had been created for writers who believe that revision demands as much time as the original draft. Except that there was no original draft.

Some writers still write with pens and/or typewriters. No doubt they're better at it than me. Better able to get their thoughts into gear beforehand. Good luck to them. Me? I thank the engineers who devised the perfect writing tool - the computer.

1 comment:

marja-leena said...

I still remember with horror the days and nights of writing essays for university classes, and I was a two finger typist. Yes, thanks to computers!!