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Blog Four Lessons from a Typewriter

January 20th, 2017

Recently I received an email with the subject line “Who Uses a Typewriter Anymore” and while that conjures up many memories of days gone by, long before so many technological changes, it got me thinking – what would be the advantages to a typewriter today? Any correlation to the way we live and work? 

 Lesson 1: Think more.

Maybe, before we dive into a communication piece, we’d think about what we were writing because you can’t easily backspace to make it go away. And maybe, we’d be a little more cautious or introspective with our responses instead of typing and immediately hitting the “send” button. It took a lot more effort to communicate using the typewriter – maybe a good thing!

Lesson 2: Be more careful.

How often do you send without proofing because spell check or the grammar police (the little person in your computer that underlines all of your mistakes) will let you know if something is wrong? When using a typewriter, you had to be so careful because erasing was not easy, it was painstaking. For those that have actually used a typewriter, do you remember whiteout or the little sheets that let you retype what you wanted to erase? And, if you need to make a copy, not on a machine, but with that messy black carbon paper – dreadful! Sometimes, mistakes are painful. And, maybe they shouldn’t always be so easy to erase with just a delete key.

Lesson 3: More thoughtful planning.

When was the last time you prepared an outline before you began writing? I didn’t before I started to write this on my iPhone because I could just copy and paste sentences easily, and place them anywhere in my story. While convenient, not always a good idea, in writing or life. Planning is key to so much of what we do every day. 

Lesson 4: Just start over.

What about when you just needed to start over? On a typewriter, you didn’t just hit the red “X” or CTRL+Q. You would take out your frustration by ripping the paper out from between those rollers, crumpling it up into a ball and tossing it towards what usually was a scattering of other crumpled papers. (At least that is what I’d do.) Or, maybe it was just a blank piece of paper staring back at you that made you realize you need to rethink what you’re about to put on paper.

So, as you sit down to craft that next piece of communication, whether it be to an internal audience or to an audience of thousands, be grateful for the ease in which you can do so. But please, honor the art of communication, as if you were using a typewriter. Think more, be more careful, think about what you are writing and sometimes, when necessary, just start over.

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