If you’re a millennial like me, you might be more used to the slight tinking noise of your laptop keyboard. Perhaps it’s the click of your cell phone keyboard. But, when the developers of Freewrite decided to bring the past back to life (with a just a touch of modernity), they realized they’d capitalized on something people take for granted… nostalgia.
The developers at Freewrite (Astrohaus) wanted to make a typewriter that held true to the elements that everyone loves(d) about typewriters but also add some of the newer technology to complement the needs of modern day writers.
So, what does that look like?
A compact, sleek thing of beauty that has wi-fi capabilities, an e-ink screen, the capacity to sync your documents to the cloud and that’s about it. It retains the nostalgic clank and clamor of the keys. The delay in the words you see on the screen. The inability to go back to previous sections with a cursor. And though the wi-fi is built in, it’s purposely left for only limited use. You can only use it to sync your documents, update the device's firmware and a few other minor details. There’s no clicking to the internet. No checking Facebook for “just a second.” No tweeting.
It’s just you and the keyboard and a screen full of your words.
So how does the Freewrite fare when put side by side with modern technology we know and love?
As you might have guessed, I decided to purchase one. In fact, I’m typing this post on it right now. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not only addicted to my precious Mac devices - I'm pretty confident that I'd die without them. However, I felt myself wishing things could be simpler. I found myself saying, “I wish I had the willpower to stay off the internet for even a day!” And I know what you’re thinking. “Well, c’mon, it’s not really that hard. Just. Do. It.”
I hear you, I do. But as my therapist would say, “if you can’t summon the willpower - take away the temptation.”
So there you have it. As of October 3rd, I had not written a single word in months. And the last thing I’d written before that was a short story. 10k words. Now, some might think that’s okay and it would have been if I were happy about it. But for someone who previously was writing upwards of 100K a year, this was NOT okay. And I was unhappy. The one thing I loved to do so much had stopped. And the truth was, I was using distraction as an excuse.
So when I saw the Freewrite on sale (it still is!), I knew it was time to make a radical change…if even just to jumpstart the momentum.
So did it work?
YES! There is something oddly compelling about sitting down with the Freewrite, no internet and just going to town on your draft. The lack of editing capabilities forces you to either
1. Murder your inner critic
2. Be VERY methodical and critical as you write so that you end up with a fresh draft by the end.
And the sound… I will admit that I’ve fallen a bit in love with the sound of the keys. The higher pitched tone of the delete key and the slight, but discernible tink of the return button. And the screensavers that rotate and change and make me smile when I pass it.
Now, don’t get me wrong – there are some issues. I’m not going to sit here and claim that it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Some of the things that bother me are also some of the same things that also make me happy. I know, I'm contradictory.
The lagging screen, the lack of arrow keys, the posture required (okay, that’s probably just me) - the inconsistency of the backspace button - they’re all things that drive me batty because they come so easily on the computer. In fact, I believe we take those things for granted. I have never loved my shiny mac as much as I did after a two-hour writing session on the Freewrite.
At first, I tried to love the Freewrite for everything, but it’s NOT an everything kind of device. To me, the best and most important thing that the Freewrite provides and encourages is distraction-free possibilities. It allows you to get out of your head - for even just a few minutes - to get your words on the screen. I have achieved some of my greatest word counts using the Freewrite and that’s impressive because I’m naturally a very fast typer/drafter. The Freewrite unlocks some kind of freedom in your mind. Allows you to push away the outside world and do what you always want to do: just write.
I truly believe that if I hadn’t forced myself to get the Freewrite and start drafting something… anything... I may not have gotten started again at all. And to me – that makes it worth its weight in gold.
But the fact that I still like to use it (like when I’m on deadline to write out a blog post about a modern day typewriter) makes me feel a burst of warm fuzzies. I love that I can always pick it up and expect to see Poe staring back at me, telling me to set my story free.
I love that when I sit down at the table with just the Freewrite - it encourages me to indulge in my intentions: to set my stories free.