Thursday, July 28, 2011

No BACKSPACE! An Experiment

Thi s is an experiment. I am for this post going to use no backspace, no edit, no delete, no spell-checker, no undo, and no do-overs.

See, this is how the OLD generation used to do it. Often (stricke that), b

Okay, start over.

Before typewriters, tehy even had to d write out their work by hand. If they fucked up, they had to scratch it out and type over it.

They had to think about what was going on the page before it every lef t their mind and fled down to their fingers. They had to capture thoughts directyl in raw form, unadulterated, mutilated, deformed as they were, and slam i them onto the patper before they got away.

What did this do for the writersz/?

I'll tell you.

It forced them to do something we tell ourselves every day to do: KEEP WRITING!

They didn'gt get bogged dowin in the infinite edit loop that so many of us suffer from.

They didn't write a paragraph, nuke it, re-write it, nuke it , and so on ad foreverum.

No. They had to trudge on. Misspellings be damned. Fat fingers go to hell. So the muse stopped talking, who cares, keep writing, because there is no go-back and revise that prior page.

You must write FORWARD, not backward.

That's how they did it, with pens and typewriters and stnen stencils.

Maybe that's why we don't have the great writers anymore. Maybe we delete all our best stuff. Maybe theo power to edit has destoryed the muse and shut her up.

So i I encourage you to try this experiment. Type up a blog freestyle, no edits, no revisions, NO BACKSPACE, and esee what pops out.

I may even do this with my next picee. It makes for a lot of spellchecking, but it may also forsce me to really slow down and think about what I am writing. Who noknows. Maybe I'll even write something brillian t and NOT erase it!

- Eric

PS. I am not going to proof-read this. Type and SEND to the blogosphere! I'l l read it when it's on the site. Good luck with your own, if you so choose to accept teh challenge.


Loralie Hall said...

it's a good observation. There are times when I can't make myself type that I'll close my eyes and just let my fingers fly, so I don't see what's on paper and can't go back and edit it.

Problem is, it never lasts more than a paragraph or two. This should be an interesting experiment. (Which I didn't not successfully do in my response).

Eric W. Trant said...

Loralie: I do the same thing sometimes, close my eyes and let the fingers fly. It's a great way to stab yourself into the moment.

- Eric

Unknown said...

I love this. I do the backspace key automatically. It wastes time. Great idea.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

Of ourse, this demans that i reply without using the baclstpace key. It's not as easy as it looks at first.
I do actually retype my 2nd draft from scratch. But after that, it's edit, edit edit.
Having to tyep everythig would definitly shorten a lot of books too.

Wine and Words said...

Ah, the gauntlet thrown. I am too anal. Can I do it? We'll see. Farggin-A I was laughing though. You must backspace a hellova lot! Maybe I do too, but am unaware. I'll give it a go Eric. Hate to back down from a challenge. So funny though, I understood everything you were saying. I once read a piece in which there were no vowels...or something, I can't remember, but my mind filled in the blanks. There was no translation problem. Vowels be damned. Fat fingers be damned. Wish someone would say that about my ass.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of post that drops me into nostalgia's sparkling pool. The typewriter was my day. I was a teenager in the Fifties. Composed my stories by longhand, by pencil in cheap pencil tablets then typed them on my mother's Underwood typewriter. Had to get typewriter ribbons from the store, take the old one out, put the new one in. Lots of strike-overs and strike-throughs. Lots of wrist action, which was good. But it was a tedious way to write stories. Yes, I did write forward, not backward; but if I had to do this today with my aging hands, I'd stop writing altogether! But lately, I have been going back to the pen and paper way to outline and write scene snippets to get things going. I did learn Gregg shorthand, too, way back then.

Thanks for a memorable post, Eric.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Unknown said...

Cool idea! But don't think I'll take it to my blog lol

I do this a lot while writing by hand...(in fact a lot of my first drafts and all my writing practice is done by hand) where I don't cross out anything I write.

There is an advantage to not editing as you write :)

Elisabeth said...

To me this is the only way to write, no editing as you write. writing and reading require different parts pf the brain. so if you write and read back to edit your'e muddling the two activities. It's better therefore, as you say, just to write. You can edit much later after the writing's been done. Thanks for a terrific post, Eric.

dolorah said...

No way in hell!! I don't care how much time it wastes; I needs my backspace :)

Congrats on holding off your own inner editor.

I had to type some papers on a typewwriter; boy am I glad for technology now. What a lot of work that was. The best invention of the era was that slip of white-out paper.

Long live the Underwood and the Olympia :)


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Eric, that was so amusing! If I typed without editing, it would look even worse.
Perhaps that's why I like to hand-write my stories. I just flow forward, mistakes be damned. And I find I make fewer, too.
And thank you for your kind words on my last blog post. I hope I can continue writing meaningful posts for you.

Cynthia Lee said...

Haha! I like that. I don't think I could manage without backspace, however. That would be like writing without breathing - however it can't hurt to get a little Jack Kerouac with it and just type like hell for a while.

Jai Joshi said...

I like the idea of it since it would force me not to look back and also consider carefully before writing carefully. Don't know if I've got the patience to ignore those typos though.