Every writer has a trick to break writer’s block. When I need to rekindle the creative fire, I turn to my trusty, green-gray 1963 Smith-Corona Sterling typewriter. (Named for Roger Sterling of "Mad Men," no doubt.) I bought it for $25 at a yard sale.
I roll in the thin, yellow-lined paper — click, click, click — and start typing. It doesn’t matter what. It is not about the words, but the ritual. The wonderful feeling of punching the glossy white keys hard enough to hear that perfect smack on paper; the bell that reminds me, like a touch on the shoulder, to return the lever.
A typewriter teaches me to think less and work more. There’s no deleting. There’s no cutting and pasting. Typing is like firing a bullet with every stroke. “You don’t like something?” it asks. “Well, too bad — keep going.”
There are times when I’m on a roll and the clicking speeds up faster and faster and I settle into a rhythm like a train rolling through the open Midwest and I can’t pull the lever fast enough to keep going. When I finish that page and pull it out I hold something real. It’s not words on a computer screen I can’t touch. This single piece of paper, filled top to bottom with typewritten letters, is a sign of my efforts. It reminds me that writing is always a physical practice. I slide the paper into a bulging folder with the others. I feel like a mechanic who closed the hood and wiped his hands. Job completed. Now, I’m ready to write.