The Analog Type

Justin Peters explains why he writes out all of his posts by hand in a moleskin before putting them online:

Twenty years’ worth of sustained Internet use has left me with a head full of random trivia and a profound inability to concentrate. Every time I sit down in front of my computer to write a post, I end up browsing the IMDb page for the movie Cool Runnings or the career stats for underrated outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. I’m just as distractible when my computer isn’t connected to the Internet: I’ve wasted weeks of my life playing this stupid baseball simulation game that I downloaded years ago and can’t bring myself to delete.

When I’m working on a computer, it takes me three times as long as it should to write a post. When I’m putting pen to paper, though, there are no distractions. It’s just me and the ink, and I can’t tab over to something more immediately gratifying. Not only do I finish my posts faster, I’m more likely to just sit and think before I write a sentence or a paragraph—something I don’t always do while composing in Microsoft Word. (All of my dumbest posts were written directly to the computer. See if you can guess which ones! The answer “all of them” will receive only partial credit.)

Along the same lines, Will Self describes why he composes his novels on a manual typewriter instead of a laptop:

To get away from the internet and from the sub-sonic sound of a computer. I come in to my study every morning and I write first drafts on the manual and I don’t even turn the computer on until after lunch. I don’t like having the machine on in the room. I find it very weird and oppressive. The whole aesthetics of computers very much feeds into my OCD. They fill my head with obsessionalities and my actions become very repetitive. It seems quite inimical to the dreamy state out of which fiction comes which seems so much less causally repetitive than the way one works on computers.

I know other people aren’t like that and don’t have that problem but I sure as shit do. And the real sea change was of course broadband – the fact that you can be seriously trying to write something and you can click a few buttons and watch somebody being anally penetrated with a Lewis gun, it’s incredibly distracting isn’t it? Or you can buy some shit you really don’t need with a few key strokes. I mean, that’s not good, is it? It’s not helpful.