Paper or Plastic?

How do you edit? Do you print out your document, grab a pen and your favorite beverage, and ensconce yourself in a comfy chair and start inking up the pages? Or do you sit at the computer, pointing and clicking your way through a recent draft?

Personally, I prefer a mix of both, mainly because I can’t write fast enough to keep the thought once it finally decides to show itself. I’ll be plodding along, evicting extraneous commas and apostrophes, when out of the blue a sentence that has plagued me for hours finally sorts itself out and must be corrected.

But the words fly so quickly in my mind that I am unable to make sense of the chicken writing that fills the hardcopy. Being able to make those changes on the computer is the best way I can think of to keep the thoughts flowing. The challenge I face with that operation, is the document changes so much, it becomes difficult to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done between the pages in my hand and those on the hard drive.

What usually happens is that I’ll start out with good intentions and a full printout, and by the tenth page, I’ve all but abandoned the hardcopy, opting instead to stare into the glare of the monitor.

I have a large bottle of analgesics close at hand for just that occasion.

Editing is my least favorite aspect of writing, yet it is also one of the most rewarding. When you pick up a raw paragraph and begin to turn it, finding the strong lines and carving away the filler, until you’ve found the gem that makes the story kind to the eyes and pleasing to the mind.

Working on the computer allows for the fleetest of thoughts to be captured, but it can also spell disaster when those thoughts weren’t really worth the effort to corral them in the first place. Yet you did it, and now they’re sitting comfortably where they don’t belong and the original thread is missing and…

…and you have a hardcopy that you can turn to in your time of need. Yay, you!

It’s also a good idea to save each round of editing with a different title, even if it’s just a notation of the date last modified. Yes, it makes for a very large collection of documents, but once the final draft is finished, the others can be deleted (did I really just write that?) and put to rest (am I the only one who finds it difficult to delete even the worst drafts of their writing?)

Editing. It’s what I’m (supposed to be) doing right now.

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About Ms. Karen

This is what happens when you live with a writer: there are pens everywhere, except by the phone; notebooks...so many notebooks with strange scribblings that make no sense but must never be thrown away; and long rambling monologues about what certain characters would, or would not do in a given situation. It's almost as difficult as living with an artist. Man, THOSE people are bizarre...
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One Response to Paper or Plastic?

  1. Selma says:

    I have one regret that rears its ugly head whenever I edit – that I no longer drink. It would help to ease the pain. 😆

    I used to agonise over deleting the worst drafts but then I saw this episode of Oprah where she talked about how getting rid of clutter is good for the soul. Worst drafts are word clutter so they have to go. It hurts at first but afterwards it is quite liberating! Oprah was right 😐

    Like

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