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Tom Adelstein

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Writers' Block - Buy a Typewriter or Use an Emulator
by Tom Adelstein   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. I mean, try it.

 My first foray into the world of creative writing occurred at 14 years-old. While some aspiring writers have never seen a typewriter - much less used one  - I began writing on a Smith-Corona manual. I found something comforting about it and even backed off of the electric my parents bought me.


Not long ago, I fell into a prolonged state of blockage. Nothing seemed to help. I wondered if my muse abandoned me.


My great ideas for writing typically rise when I do - in the morning.  Recently, I woke up and had a compulsion to sit at a typewriter. I didn't have one -just a couple of Toshiba laptops.


I hit eBay and began searching for typewriters. To my surprise, a huge market exists out there for them. I looked on-line at my bank account and decided to buy one. That could have been a dumb mistake.


Like most items on eBay, the sellers don't mind selling people crap. I began reading descriptions and soon realized that "it looks like new", "the ribbon has a tear", "in the original box", meant stay away.


I found a seller that refurbished his before he listed them. Wow. I looked at one of his auctions and realized that 68 bids probably meant people wanted his items and would bid up the price.


I left eBay and did a general search in Google. I found some other sellers that refurbished theirs. Not bad if you want to spend $800.


I admit that my temptation grew even at those prices. When I went back to a site to purchase one, it sold during the fifteen minutes I looked around my search results. Pow! Bang!


A few years ago, I bought two typewriters in an antique mall. Neither worked after a few hours. I had a feeling that could happen again.


Perhaps my goal of using a typewriter to break writers' block wasn't such a good idea. Then it occurred to me: I bet someone wrote some emulation software that would run on a computer and imitate a typewriter even with a choice of sounds - you know like an IBM Selectric, Smith Corona, Remington, Royal, Sholes-Glidden and so forth.


I found one program after a few hours of searching - Writemonkey - and it's free. I had a normal reluctance to installing it and a legitimate worry about malware: Google said the site was a serious threat and would not even let me navigate there.


I started searching for reviews. Plenty of people used the program and it received good reviews. I even found alternate download mirrors and the "legitimate" home of the software developers.


With a sense of confidence, I downloaded the software and installed it. Wow again! It worked. I just needed  to change some preferences and I had a white sheet of paper in front of me on my laptop screen and the sounds of a Smith-Corona manual.


Next, I found some fonts that also emulated manual typewriters.


After I installed and tweaked  everything in the software package, I sat down to use it. It worked. Goodbye writers' block. I heard those familiar sounds and saw that familiar sheet of white paper and the ideas began flowing. Muscle memory took me back to a kinder, gentler time.


Those of you who never had the opportunity to use a typewriter, I'm sorry. You'll have to try a package that emulates an early IBM PC Keyboard or the sound of ten blowers in a Gateway personal computer tower or the speed -or lack thereof - that came with a Pentium 486.


That's about all I have to say about that. Write - but not to me - to yourself. Gotta go!






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