I typed and typed for the pure joy of watching the words appear on the paper. My stories were like childish script rejects from the old Frankie and Annette beach movies, or they were variations of my favorite fairy tales. I loved that old typewriter because it gave a voice to my over-active imagination. But when I typed for long periods of time, my fingertips got sore. Notice the raised metal rims around the keys in the photo and you'll see the reason.
When I married and left home, the old Underwood stayed behind. If you've ever tried to pick up one of these machines, you know they weigh a ton. Not something you could carry onto a plane or tuck inside a suitcase.
Within a year of leaving home, I landed in California to stay for a while, so I went looking for another typewriter. That's when I acquired a newer model, the Underwood SX-100, elite type, pictured above. This thing was sweet. No metal rims! With the acquisition of this new machine, I moved another step closer to my dream of being a writer.
With this old typewriter, I wrote 4 complete full-length manuscripts, including the first draft of Angel in the Rain, my published novel. I also produced several thousand pages of story ideas and partials. I still have most of them today, packed away in boxes.
A handful of years before getting my first computer, my husband thought he'd do me a favor and bought me a brand spanking new electric typewriter, with correction tape and the whole nine yards. Strange as it may seem, I produced nothing on that machine. It threw off my rhythm. I was used to the clackety-clack of the keys hitting in time with the movement of my fingers. With the electric, my fingers got ahead of the keys and the thing would continue typing even after I'd finished a line. This always brought me up short and and I would watch it finish out the line without me. The rhythm was just off, it was out of sync, and it distracted me right out of business.
Next came a couple of Brother word processors in quick succession. With the advent of electronics also came the headache of glitches and lost work. Both machines were 100% reliant on floppies to operate. Nuff said. The only thing I accomplished on the word processor was the first rewrite of the Angel in the Rain manuscript.
I was already past my 40th birthday when I finally got my first computer and the Microsoft Word program. That was when the gates of Heaven opened up and the light poured down. As a friend described it, "Now you've been given wings to soar!" Or so one would think. So now it's confession time, time to look at the facts in the cold, harsh light of reality. During all the years I've had a computer, I haven't been as productive as I was with my sweet old Underwood SX-100. Shocking, isn't it? I know, it surprises me, too.
So, what's the deal? It's really not hard to figure out. There's that distraction factor again, and it's staring me right in the face. It's called the World Wide Web and for someone who sits here for hours on end, staring at a computer screen, it can be a mighty powerful temptation to step through that door and mix and mingle with the big world out there. With the old Underwood, there were no such diversions. I didn't have the luxury of deleting anything. I couldn't copy and paste, unless I took the scissors to the pages and then taped them back together. And believe me, I have a lot of pages stored away here that resemble montages more than manuscripts. All I could do was plow forward, and that's exactly what I did. Sometimes I've even thought about dragging out the old manual typewriter but, once you've gone tech, there's no going back, at least not for me.
I see a lot of authors and aspiring authors around the internet romance community complaining about lack of discipline when it comes to internet time. The distraction is too much temptation for them, too. I can only speak for myself, but a writer's life is often secluded and lonely. So, we blog. We MySpace. We email. We cruise and call it research. In the end, a lot of us are not producing as much as we need or want to.
So, what's the answer? Other than sheer iron willpower, I have no idea. Are you--like me--guilty of wasting valuable writing time out there on the net? I'm writing this blog post when I should be working on my manuscript. Are you reading this post when you should be working on yours? If so, you're not alone.