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The Evolution Of Writing Tools

I’ve had a lot of writing tools over the years. I started out in high school writing in notebooks. I got a manual Brother typewriter for Christmas when I was 12 or 13, but even by the standards of the day (goodness I’m dating myself, but 1989? 1990?) it was archaic, clunky, and hard to use, and the keys always stuck. The only way to correct typos was with white out paper (remember that stuff?), though you could buy ink cartridges with a correction ribbon as well. Nevertheless, I did type out a short story on it and sent it to a magazine. Hilariously, they sent it back unread because the typesetting was so bad as to be nearly unreadable. I was 14 and more optimistic than smart, what can I say?

My first ‘technological’ writing tool was a Brother word processor. MUCH better than a manual typewriter, but by today’s standards still a cumbersome, difficult piece of equipment. They keyboard part (which was also a typewriter) weighed about seven hundred pounds, and the cables to hook it up to the monitor were plentiful. Despite it being a huge advancement over a typewriter, its technological capabilities were limited. Printing anything took years, as it printed by literally typing out everything on the screen (and to print out an entire book took about six ink cartridges). It did take 3.5 disks though, which I saved tons and tons of stories on. I can no longer access those disks because the files on them can’t be read by newer technology. Nevertheless, I wrote many stories and books on it and submitted them to magazines and contests. I even got a short story published. I also had a ‘laptop’ word processor, but I didn’t have a printer to hook it up to so I mostly wrote fan fiction on it.

And then, in 2000, we got our first desktop computer. Oh, the ease of writing! The technology! The mountains of stories and books I wrote and submitted and had rejected! Truly astounding. The internet also enabled me to become a hugely popular fan fiction author, which is where I cut my writing teeth to full sharpness (I won’t tell you the fandom or my screen name, to spare my dignity, but there’s a few friends who read this whom I actually met through that writing).

And then on to laptops, eventually. With each new machine came better technology and a better version of Word. Just recently, I replaced my old laptop because I’d had it nearly four years and it was getting to the point it was usable, but not very efficient. Kind of like that one light switch in your house that’s wired backwards so you have to turn it off to turn it on, or the toilet handle you always have to jiggle. It’s comfortable and you know the workaround by heart, but why not fix the issue and do it without the unnecessary jumping through hoops and voodoo spells you have to cast to make it work right?

My new laptop types beautifully, has more memory, better graphics, more storage, and Word 2016 runs as smooth as butter, the words just flowing from my fingertips onto the screen like the technology is right inside my head. I’ve come all this way from pounding sticky keys and cramping my hand with a pen and notebook. Do I miss the old ways? No, not at all. But nostalgia isn’t always about wishing you could do something the hard way again.

How have your writing tools evolved?

Megan Morgan View All

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

8 thoughts on “The Evolution Of Writing Tools Leave a comment

  1. Since I was born in 1985 and my father was a computer specialist in the US Army, I’ve been around computers my entire life. I remember the MS DOS beauties that we had to program ourselves. Remember the green writing on black screen? I learnt to write and speak English with a programme that had ALF as the helper? It was weird. My first personal computer was a COMPAQ that I got in 1995 and my first laptop was a Mac iBook.

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    • Ha, I remember those! Those are what we learned on in fifth and sixth grade, when ‘computer classes’ first became a thing. I learned how to type on an actual typewriter in middle school, too, I took two years of typing classes. It amazes me my son never took a class, he just learned to type, cause it’s a skill you pick up now like learning to write.

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      • I had computer studies in high school but it was assumed we learnt to type earlier. Apparently they had typing classes in middle school but I learnt to type with typing games. I still have my mother’s manual typewriter. It’s a brother 660 and it’s bright yellow. I adore it.

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  2. It’s not evolved I hope , I started writing on this virtual keypad from the very beginning. However, manual writing gives me pleasure as it involves the connection of your hand and the paper kind of feeling the flesh. I love it.

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    • I started learning to type in middle school (we actually had classes!) and I’m not sure the correction tape existed then? Maybe?

      My laptop was still working, it just had all kinds of hangups, so it was time for a new one. I’ll still keep it, though!

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