Turning inner space into outer space

September 30, 2020

When typewriter mode gets to be too typey

Origin in action

I can’t seem to leave well enough alone. I’m still downloading writing apps and trying them out. Nothing is as good as the iA Writer Classic experience so far, but I have made some interesting discoveries.

One is an app called Origin, which has a true typewriter mode. Most apps claiming to have this feature just keep the line you’re typing on centred vertically. This is indeed similar to the way things work in a typewriter, but not exactly the same.

Origin actually keeps each letter centred both horizontally and vertically — just like a real typewriter. The line of letters moves to the left as you type. It’s been so long since I used a typewriter that I had forgotten about this.

What would make it even truer to a typewriting experience would be if only one letter was in focus at a time. Because that’s the way it was. As far as seeing what you were doing while you were in the act of writing, it was just one letter at a time. The rest — the sentences, the phrasing, the cleverness — was all in your head.

You could, of course, stop typing and look at what you’d written, but that would break the flow. Your only choice, to keep that stream going, was to concentrate on whatever letter was being imprinted onto the paper by the key you were pounding.

That doesn’t mean I want to go back to those days. In fact, I found the experience in Origin to be weirdly disorienting. And, of course, an app can’t claim to be distraction-free if the way it functions is itself a distraction.