good morning, cyberspace!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 17th, 2020
Exactly one week ago today, I met a typewriter.
He was a beautiful thing, all sharp edges and dusty keys and a mysterious orange goop which clung to his white frame like dried cheese puff powder. He was thick and heavy, with the word OLYMPIA stamped across his front like a badge of honor and a look of extreme shock on his face. (which I’m fairly certain was from having found himself in the back room of a strange little thrift shop without getting broken into a million little pieces, but I digress.)
This was my first impression of Frank, and though I didn’t know how closely intertwined our paths would soon be, I could feel my heart skip a tiny beat just at the mere discovery of him. Here was a typewriter which had clearly seen better days, but which had survived. Here was a machine which, despite all odds, had withstood the test of time.
Here, my friends, was a trooper.
Unfortunately, when I first discovered Frank in that dingy back room, I didn’t even consider the potential of buying him for myself. For one thing, he was an electric (and I am, in the most stubborn of ways, a mechanical typewriter snob
[or, shall we say, I was ]), and for another, I already had two typewriters at home. I didn’t need a third one. I didn’t have ROOM for a third one. It wouldn’t do to dwell on the impossible, and–in any case–that cheese puff powder was slightly disturbing.
So I left him.
Now let’s fast-forward by precisely one week, shall we?
It’s Thursday, and I’m working–again–and as I pass by one of our shelving units, I notice something poking out on the bottom.
He looks a little grubbier than I remember. His case has been popped open and his carriage is uncentered. He looks sad. He looks lonely. He looks like he needs someone to take him home and give him some love. The sight of poor Frank just sitting there rotting on the bottom shelf was enough to break my smol writer heart, and for the rest of my shift, try however hard as I might to forget about him, my thoughts kept drifting back to that sad little typewriter.
He needed me, that much was certain. Sure, I’ve never had an electric typewriter in my life, but certainly there’s a first for everything, right? Not to mention that–the more I looked at him–the more I realized how strikingly similar he was to the typewriter that Frank Navasky was obsessed with in You’ve Got Mail.
(Later, upon further research, I realized that it is NOT, in fact, the exact model used, but it is a similar model, and that, my friends, is quite enough.)
Once my shift ended, I spent the next ten minutes sitting on the floor in the back of the thrift shop, staring at Frank, turning him over, testing his keys, googling whether or not he was the exact replica of Frank Navasky’s typewriter. . . My mom and sister found me there on the floor, and with a conflicted heart, I decided to leave Frank behind.
My thought process behind this decision went something like this:
- as already stated, I already had two typewriters. Sure, Frank needed a good home–and a good scrubbing, mind–but as much as I felt connected to him, I didn’t need him. And I’m trying to cut back on things I don’t need.
- Frank wasn’t the exact model used in You’ve Got Mail, and if I was going to get an electric typewriter, I’d probably want him to be the exact model. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m extremely obsessed with that movie (thanks, mom!) and have absolutely no shame about it whatsoever.
- my dad was waiting for us in the freezing car to whisk us away to dinner, so I really didn’t have a whole lot of time to ponder whether or not I wanted to adopt a new child. . .
One quarter pounder with cheese and a large fry later, however, and I had finally made my decision:
I wanted Frank. I needed Frank. I didn’t care if he wasn’t the Olympia Report De Luxe Electric. He was beautiful and grubby and wonderful and mine, and he was going to come home with me that very night.
Not to mention the fact that my mom had the brilliant idea to name him Frank after–you guessed it–Frank Navasky (*cough* I wonder where I get my You’ve Got Mail obsession from *cough*), so that was that. Once he had a name, I knew there was no other option. Frank needed me, and I him, and together, we were bound to achieve greatness.
Which leads us to today’s blog post! Welcome to the beginning of a full month of utter insanity, my dearest beans. Welcome to madness.
Welcome . . . to THE FRANK EXPERIMENT.
THE FRANK EXPERIMENT: A SMOL Q & A
Q1: “What’s The Frank Experiment?”
The Frank Experiment is a lovely little idea I had upon the second day of Frank’s arrival home. I was sitting there, typing on his clackety keys and having an absolute blast drafting my current WIP, when all of a sudden it struck me:
When using a typewriter, there’s virtually no way to go back and rewrite what you’ve previously written. You can’t tinker with the past. You can’t overthink your mistakes. You just have to write. Which leads to A) choosing your words with more precision and care, and B) writing more, because you rewrite, edit, and stress less. It was a mindblowing realization, and immediately I knew I wanted to experiment with this idea.
Could using a typewriter help me draft faster? I am, by nature, a slow drafter. Editing as I go has always been one of my pitfalls to drafting books, and while I’ve tried to get over it in the past and just write, it’s made difficult by how enabling a laptop is to rewriting. Laptops grant much creative freedom while writing, but they can also be crippling to forward momentum. With a typewriter, on the other hand, the only way out is forward, and unless you finish a page, you’re going to have to let that first draft material sit in your typewriter for all to see as they pass by until you have the guts to finish it later.
And that is not a very pleasant feeling, let me tell you.
So what is The Frank Experiment? It’s a 29 day challenge, put forth by my own self, to draft with
almost nothing but my typewriter for the full month of February. If you’ve been around the blog for any length of time, you might remember February Freeze Out from last year, and March Hare Madness (#neveragain) the year before that. This is slightly similar, though the end goal is not, as it was in previous years, to have a completed story by the end of it. My goal is to simply see how much more productive I am when using a typewriter, as opposed to when I’m using a laptop.
Now, there are going to be moments when I physically cannot use a typewriter–like when I’m drafting late into the depths of the night, as I’m prone to do when I’m deep in the drafting trenches–because unfortunately, while Frank is extremely fun to use, he also tends to be extremely loud and clackety, which makes writing with him at 11 o’clock at night simply out of the question. SO. During those moments when Frank isn’t available for use, I will be writing by hand.
Hopefully. Maybe. This is something I’ve wanted to start doing more of, anyway, so hopefully The Frank Experiment will help me break free from my procrastination and fear of hand cramps and let me use all the cool pens my dad made me for Christmas. . .
Q2: “Are there any rules?”
Not . . . really? Basically the main thing is to just cut back on laptop drafting for the month of February. It’s not that I don’t like writing on my laptop–in all actuality, I LOVE it–but I want to see how different my drafting process looks when I cut out the mediums I’m comfortable with.
Am I faster? Am I slower? Does the story’s tone change? << these are the questions I have, and these are the questions I am hoping to answer by undertaking the Frank Experiment.
If, however, I find that I seriously need to use my laptop–say for portability reasons or if I feel like the scene I’m working on needs some MAJOR help and tinkering–then I’m not going to forbid myself to wait until March just so I can use my laptop. This is, first and foremost, an experiment, and the overall story I’m weaving is more important than what medium I’m writing it on.
But since I am trying to make this as much a challenge as it is an experiment, the rules are basically thus:
- draft solely on a typewriter for the 29 days of February
- if you cannot use the typewriter, go old-school and write by hand
Boom! We have rules, peasants!
someone please hold me accountable to this. . .
Q3: “Will you continue blogging through the month of February if you’re not using your laptop?”
Yes! The point of the Frank Experiment is to cut back on drafting my book via laptop, but I’ll still be using it for other things–such as blogging. And this is good, because my “plan” is to document The Frank Experiment here on the blog for all posterity, so definitely stay tuned for more Frank-ish posts coming your way! (of course, now that I say I want to blog about The Frank Experiment, I won’t blog at all during the month of February, but you know. as of right now it’s the plan.)
Q4: “You keep mentioning the word ‘drafting’. What exactly are you drafting in February?”
Why, a book, of course! My smol little firecracker child, SK, to be more precise. You can find more information on this story here and here, but rest assured that since the plot of this story is highly classified at the moment, most of the details I’ve sprinkled out thus far are sparse and confusing. I’m hoping to get WIP IT! back up and running this year so I can share more about my current projects, but for right now, we’ll just have to live with random pieces splattered across the blog here and there. XD
Q5: “All right, Kenzie. This experiment sounds like fun!! Can I join???”
Absolutely! If you’ve got a typewriter and want to play along with me during the month of February, I highly encourage you to do so! (or, contrariwise, if you DON’T have a typewriter and just want to play around with different writing mediums during the month of February to see how your writing process changes, you can totally do that, too!) As I mentioned above, I’m “planning” on writing posts about my experience with this experiment over the course of February, so hopefully we’ll be able to chat about our ups and downs in the comment sections of those. OR, if you want a more one-on-one experience with Yours Truly as we undertake this grandiose experiment, go ahead and shoot me an email! (you can find my email address over in the contact and suggestion desk) It’s gonna be a fun, slightly terrifying month, I guarantee it!
IN CONCLUSION. . .
I’m insane. This I think we already knew. But one of my goals for this year is to really sink my teeth into the art of writing, and it’s been far too long since I’ve played around with my daily process. So! A writing challenge/experiment it is! To be honest, I’m a little nervous about this. I absolutely ADORE typewriters, but using one to draft the majority of a novel is definitely outside of my comfort zone. I’m hoping it’s something I’ll get used to as the month progresses, though! I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. . .
At least I still have a few days before February begins, right? Aha. Hahaha. Ha. *sweats nervously*
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
All right, folks, let’s chat! Are you undertaking any new and slightly horrifying writerly experiments this year? What sorts of tools do you use to write YOUR novels? (and if you write by hand/use a typewriter, definitely give me all of your tips down below. I need all the help I can get at this point. . .) Do you own a typewriter of any sort, and if you do, do you prefer mechanical or electrical? (I’m still on the fence as to which one I prefer. I think I like both for their own reasons, but Frank’s definitely got a special place in my heart right now. . .) and most importantly. . .
ARE YOU GOING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FRANK EXPERIMENT?
We could totally call it something else. Like February Freeze Out. Or the Oh My Goodness We’re All Going To Die challenge. . . You know, whatever works best for you guys. XD
As always, let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS! down in the comments below! And until next time. . .