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In Defense of the Freewrite Typewriter
No matter how much I want to hate it, I just can't.
SPOILER ALERT: There is a coupon code for the Freewrite at the end of this.
I remember my buddy emailing me the Freewrite Kickstarter. At the time, it was called a “Hemingwrite.” He made fun of it, calling it an "ergonomic nightmare" and wondered "who this was for." I agreed with him. But, deep down inside, it appealed to me. If you read my dumb iPhone post, you know why. Still, the Freewrite was too expensive, so I never jumped on it.
CUT TO: A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC 😎
Astrohous, the company behind the Freewrite typewriter, released a smaller model. The Traveler folded and was ultra-portable. And cheaper. Although, it wasn't that cheap at $499. However, my buddy had one he would sell me for $240. I thought it was worth the risk at that price…
What is the appeal of a device like this? For me, it was the ability to wake up, grab the thing, and start typing. No Twitter or internet to mess with my attention. I was also attracted to the e-ink screen. The idea that I wasn't just staring at another glowing LCD screen. (Computers, Phones, TVS, my eyes needed a rest!)
But the fundamental reason for choosing a device like this is the concept of "flow state." And there's no way to talk about it without sounding like I'm in a cult.
Astrohous says these machines are made for first drafts. They're not for editing, fine-tuning, etc. "Bullshit!" you may say. "This is just the company turning a design flaw into a selling point." And hey, if that's how you feel, you might as well stop reading.
I have always been the type of writer who writes a “vomit draft." Every screenplay I've written was all about momentum. Every day, one foot in front of the other, no editing, no second-guessing, just go. I knew there would be many rewrites and edits after.
Some folks just don't work like that. Some people are even appalled by this idea. How could you leave errors on the page?!
The Freewrite is not for those people.
But, for me, the Freewrite is FUN! There’s a sense of freedom in just moving forward, not activating your editor brain, not worrying about spelling errors or formatting. And in that freedom, I find my writing surprises me more.
When I first got the Traveler, I wrote a full-length screenplay. (You have to write in fountain, a straightforward syntax that John August champions, for it to work. More info here.) It was glorious! With screenwriting software, you're constantly aware of formatting. But with Freewrite, that part of my brain is never activated.
I was flow-stating, baby.
In 2020, when I started writing more prose and fewer screenplays, the Freewrite only made more sense. All of my short stories were written on Freewrite, and so was the first draft of my book.
So, how do you get your writing off this machine? Well, everything you write is synced up to the cloud service of your choice. (For me, it's dropbox.) I can also send a copy of whatever I'm writing directly to my email. Or, worse case, plug the device in and retrieve it via USB. Everything is also stored internally.
The E-ink screen is a point of contention for some folks. While the technology is excellent for the eyes, it's not fast, which means there's a slight delay when you type. This can be a dealbreaker and I get it. (A new model Freewrite may solve that issue, more on that later.)
Eventually, I began daydreaming about the original Freewrite. The one that looked like a typewriter and had clicky mechanical keys. It also had a built-in reading light which would be great for my often early AM writing sessions. (If you look at the photo above, you’ll see I attached a reading light to the Traveler.)
It was more expensive than the Traveler and less portable, but…your boy isn’t traveling much these days. And those keys.
The Freewrite store has a 30-day return policy, and I’ll be honest, I wanted to NOT like the Freewrite Typewriter. It’s not something I would feel comfortable using at a cafe. Its design screams, “I’M A WRITER, WORLD!” (The Traveler, however, I’d happily use in a cafe.)
But, Goddamn it. The Freewrite Typewriter is a more lust-worthy object than the Traveler. The clacky mechanical keys are more satisfying to type on, and yeah, because it looks like a typewriter, you can’t help but recall the great writers who pounded away on devices like this. But, y’know, without the cloud backup.
I ended up selling the Traveler on eBay. But, sometimes in the middle of the night, I miss it. I just couldn’t justify owning two like-minded devices.
CUT TO: 2022
Astrohous announced a new Freewrite. The “Alpha.” This one would be reasonably priced. ($300 to pre-order, $350 when it goes to retail) and would drop the E-ink screen in favor of LCD. This would feasibly fix the E-ink delay. The keyboard would be a low-profile mechanical keyboard, meaning you would get a bit of the clacky feel of the full-sized unit without the size. Throw in an integrated palm rest and tilting design, and it might be the most ergonomic version yet.
Will I try the Alpha when it debuts later this summer? Man, you know I will. And you’ll know I’ll hate myself for doing it! But, with a 30-day return policy, it’s hard to resist. And who knows? Maybe this full-size typewriter I’m currently loving will end up on eBay too.
WANT TO JOIN THE CULT? I MEAN TRY OUT A TYPEWRITER?
Use coupon code BMILLER22 for 5% off at the Freewrite store. Or click here for the discount.
Some dude on youtube gave me a 5% code, and now I'm doing it for you!!!
It’s the circle of life!!!
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