A Connection to What We Write

Before computers there were typewriters. Before typewriters there were pens. And before pens, well, people drew. Does the medium in which one works change the end result? Does writing with a pen connect you more than typing on a computer? Is the ‘clack, clack, clack’ you get from writing on a typewriter more meaningful then the little “click, click, click’ you get while writing on a computer. Or does it even matter?

Technology changes and advances, which is why we have been able to change from the pen to a typewriter, and now to a computer. Things become more efficient, and since the world is changing everything within it does too. But with writing, some things stay the same. A person must think of an idea to put down. They construct one and work with it, deepening everything else that goes into the work. In stories, a plot is invented, characters get made, and then these things get strung together. Writing an essay or research paper a similar form is used, but instead of a plot a thesis is needed. Instead of characters the ideas and reasoning behind the thesis are thought out, followed by quotes and research to back up the ideas, and lastly finding the right way to string it all together. But now one wonders if typing this on a computer or bringing it old school to a typewriter would change the end result.

It is said that when using a typewriter a writer must think more about what is put on the paper. Unlike a computer, there is no backspace button to delete whatever thoughts were put down. On a typewriter you cannot ramble along until you come up with what you want to say. On the contrary, you must think deeply before you type, or else you are going to have to get out that little white strip to go over the mistakes you may have just made. I do not believe this is true. Sitting in front of a typewriter my ideas still have to get worked out before I type them down. On the screen I would have to do that on a notebook beside me. Although these thoughts do not go right onto my final product, as they would on a computer, they are still right there. It would be nearly impossible to just think, write, and be finished, having no notes or anything in between.

I know that when I am writing on a computer, I sometimes just stare at the screen, trying to gather my thoughts about what I am about to do. I feel as though writing on a typewriter I would get that same feeling. This feeling also does not escape those sitting with a pen and a notebook in front of them. Staring at that blank piece of paper, searching for an inkling of inspiration, is impossible to avoid. It is something that happens to all writers. This feeling is what connects the pen, the typewriter, and a computer. All three have one starting place in common; staring at that blank piece of paper.

It is also unlikely that a pen does not touch a piece of work. It is not often that a person does not print the thing they are working on to edit it. It is necessary to make changes, corrections, and to further improve the work. Looking at a computer screen is not the same as having a hard copy in one hand, a pen in the other. A computer just deletes, but with a pen you can cross out, write over, and work with what you’ve already got. This process is necessary when writing in any medium, because the pen is just as likely to cross out typed words as it is to cross out other pen-written ones.

This is not to say that the pen is more important than the computer or the typewriter. It is just to say that what is important are the words that get put down and the way they finally end up. Because one day there will be a newer technology. One day there might be something completely different to write on. Even now one can write without even writing. Just speak, and some computers do the typing for you, completely omitting the pen, the keyboard, and the typewriter. This shows that even without even physically writing a piece the author is still connected to the writing. It does not matter in what form; it is important simply to be connected.

The end result of a work is what people see. The noise we hear while working, whether a scratch, a clack, or a click will affect every writer differently and it is up to the writer to choose what works best for them. Because no matter what medium we are working with, the same things are achieved.

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