I couldn’t actually decide what to do. I’m sat here in Costa Coffee (again) and debating about whether to write an entry or type up what I have already written. So I decided, as you can tell by this entry, to write again. But that wasn’t the biggest problem - I have over ninety minutes to spare and I do love a good freewrite. My dilemma was whether to use my new Parker fountain pen that I bought from Aldi two weeks ago or to utilise this new facility that I have found. The answer, incidentally, is the new facility that I have found.
I love writing. It’s one of the contributing factors to doing my Masters in Creative Writing. I also love fountain pens. And technology. However, I love a gadget and the simplicity that they often bring. The piece of technology that has most recently caught my eye is that of a Freewrite. It’s essentially an electronic typewriter. For £500. Which is only available through an American website. It has mechanical keys, an ePaper screen and the look of a retro/hipster typewriter. Did I mention mechanical keys? It has no real editing facility which means that the focus is on flow rather than micro-editing the work as one goes on. This is meant to help with focus in terms of writing. Simply look at the screen (or the mechanical keys) and type away.
And yes, a laptop does that as well. So does my new tablet/keyboard set-up. The Freewrite £500 or whatever it’s officially called, connects to a cloud-based storage facility with only three folders. It syncs automatically once connected and also has a USB connection for memory pens. Which laptops and tablets have. But unlike laptops and tablets, and more like a typewriter with mechanical keys, that’s all there really is. No interweb distractions, no extra tabs opened on the browser, no Netflix Prime or Instabook to disturb you. Not even a messaging app. Nothing. Simply a screen and keys. That are mechanical.
For those of you interested, mechanical keys are the ones that sound like a typewriter or an old-fashioned word processor from yesteryear.
£500 is a lot of money to spend on a device from an American website. But if money were no object, I’d certainly be entertaining the thought more. But, what I have found is an absolute treasure of a website. Brought to you by (probably) the same team as the Freewrite is the same thing on laptop/tablet but without the pricetag and the availability of the distractions. That’s where you need an separate mechanical keyboard. You can set the goal that they provide for either a set time, set amount of words or a specified number of characters. With a free account, you can even save these freewrites to a cloud-based storage system; Dropbox, Google Drive or Evernote. What I am unsure of is whether the limited autocorrect is from the website or Grammarly - of which I have the free version connected to the work laptop that I’m using at the moment.
I do know that what I’ve written so far has taken eighteen minutes to write, contains 529 words and will take, they say, three minutes to read.
I don’t know if this is good or not, but I have found the black background and white text easy on the eye. I have also found that the distraction-free process is an absolute wonderment. It’s exactly how freewriting used to be. Granted, this is coherent drivel which isn’t quite how freewrites used to be, but for this writing style, it is simply amazing. I have no direction, only an outline.
But what I am missing is the rough handwritten draft in my Ted Baker notebook. So I shall have to print this out (which isn’t necessarily a straight forward process; having to copy the .txt file download or copy and paste from Evernote) and pop it in the book at the relevant place. Nonetheless, despite this having no apparent connection to Paris, I still want a Freewrite with mechanical keys.
And once my Masters is over, I shall use any spare cash I get to save up for one - even though the tablet/keyboard set-up is easier to schlep around town. I can’t stop picturing myself in Au Père Tranquille with one, maybe popping a fountain pen behind my ear, and hearing the clickety clak of the mechanical keyboard as I freewrite on my Freewrite.