Writing, Then and Now

Hi, SEers! You’re with Mae today, and I’ve got nothing heavy on tap—just some reminiscing which hopefully you’ll find enjoyable. Depending how long you’ve been putting pen to paper (an old expression that works for this post), you may remember some of the “technology” I’ve highlighted below.

I started writing early. I was six when I scribbled my first story on yellow tablet paper with a pencil. Scratchings eventually grew into story collections and ideas as I got older, jotted down in spiral-bound notebooks. Writing longhand was my go-to method of creating until my parents bought me a typewriter. Seriously, what fifteen-year-old asks for a typewriter for a birthday gift? Was I alone here?

small blue manual typewriter with paper in platen
Image from Deposit Photos

I was in writer heaven! Some of you may recall the old manual machines that only functioned if you pushed the platen back after each line. If you made a mistake—trauma!—you gobbed Wite-Out over it and hoped it didn’t clump.

I vividly remember that typewriter—baby blue with a lid that snapped over the base and a handle for easy carrying. It was hot stuff back in the day. I pounded out my first full-length novel on that small machine—310 pages, single spaced—over weeks (months?) at our dining room table.

Shortly after I got married, my husband bought me an electric typewriter. With auto correct! There was no greater joy. Not only did the platen return with the push of a button, but I didn’t have to fiddle with messy Wite-Out or correction tape.

5.25" black floppy disk
Image courtesy of Pixabay

That wonderful Smith-Corona was my go-to method of writing until the advent of computers. I still remember my first PC with its putty-colored base and chunky monochrome monitor. In those days (yeah, it was ancient back then), there was no Windows or mouse for navigating. Everything was done through DOS commands and keyboarding. I used an early version of Word Perfect to write my manuscripts and swore to my husband I would never need another writing “gizmo” because my snazzy IBM clone ran at a blistering 2 MHz, and I had a dot-matrix printer to print out my masterpieces. If that wasn’t enough, it came with 5.25″ floppy disks for back-up.

From there it was on to 3.25 floppies, then zip disks. When first introduced in 1994, a zip could hold a whopping 100 MB. So mind-blowing, I once wrote a novel centered around data on a zip disk.

I can’t tell you how many computers I went through over the years… erm, decades. Eventually, I embraced laptops, and all-in-one desktops. When I got my first iPhone, I became smitten with Mac and now use an iMac for my desktop and a MacBook for my laptop.  

That’s a lot of change in how a story is crafted. I can type far faster than I can write, but there are still instances—though rare—when I reach for pen and paper. Maybe it takes me back to that six-year-old or the tween and teen, who scribbled stories in notebooks. Now and then, when I don’t want the formality of sitting at my desk, and truly want to unplug, I’ll grab a tablet to write a scene in longhand. Isn’t it odd how even the words “tablet” and “notebook” are more associated with tech, then with bound paper today?

I have a composition book filled with pages of random scenes, ideas, and blog snippets. It’s my catch-all for longhand writing, sort of like a junk drawer. When it’s filled, I break out a new one. I don’t think there is any writer in existence who can resist the allure of a fresh, clean notebook and a blank page.

What do you remember about your first venture(s) into writing? What medium did you use to create your first story? Whether it was last week, a few short years ago, or decades past, I’d love for you to reminisce in the comments. Maybe you even remember–gasp!–blue carbon paper!

Ready, set, go!

bio box for author, Mae Clair

132 thoughts on “Writing, Then and Now

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  2. Recent writer here. All my plotting and poetry is done with pen and paper. Being a 90s born, my first tech was a windows p.c. Not much nostalgia there, yet. I write my first drafts using a typewriter app in order to stop me correcting everything as I write. Ithen just copy that into Msword for editing. Still hesitant to use technologies like grammarly because that doesn’t apply to poetry and I sometimes toe the grammar rules. I use it as a guideline but not law.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jude! Nice to have you drop by and share your thoughts. Trust me, there will be a time (decades in the future) when you look back on that Windows PC the way I look back on a manual typewriter, LOL.

      I agree with you about Grammarly and poetry, although even in fiction, it still is more subjective (in certain aspects) than law.
      Happy writing and composing!


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