The topic of today's post impacts your health on this planet, and for that I'm truly sorry.
But I'm rediscovering the helpfulness of printing out my work in order to rewrite and revise it. (I like to make a distinction between the two words. To me, rewriting is what you do on the second draft, when you're looking at big stuff like character arc and plot. Revising is what you do on the final draft, when you're looking at every word, and comma and period. Big difference.)
This all began when I saw Anne Lamott last Friday night. She spoke in Portland at the Baghdad Theater as part of her book tour for Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. The theater was packed, I'm happy to report, full of happy fans eating pizza and burgers and drinking wine and beer. Which was just the wee-est bit ironic, seeing as how Anne is a famous recovering alcoholic.
But it didn't seem to bother her and she had some great things to say about her life and her writing. (She delivers her lectures in almost a stream-of-consciousness style that appears effortless and is very entertaining.) She talked about writing as a radical act (hear, hear) and also that she likes to repeat the mantra, "it could happen," after a character in an old movie, Angels in the Outfield. (Such as, bestselling novel? "It could happen." And so on.)
What really struck me, however, was when she talked about printing out your work in order to edit it. Yes, we live in an electronic world, but it is still important to make a hardcopy of your writing and see it on the page. Use the electronics to communicate with the world and tinker with your work on the page. The real page.
I used to do this all the time. It was the only way I could rewrite. But lately, with the convenience of editing on the computer, I've gotten away from it. This week, I decided to experiment and printed out 70 pages of my next novel. Totally different experience. You simply see things differently when you edit on the page. Try it.
I'm not sure I recommend printing out pages every single time you edit. So much of editing goes on as you re-read a draft on the computer, perhaps before you begin your writing session. But as an exercise at certain key points along the way, it can be very useful.
And as for the trees? Buy recycled paper.
Create a successful, inspired writing life: Next time you're finished with a draft, print it out to make your revisions. See if it works for you.
Please comment. How do you approach rewriting and revising? Do you do it on the computer or on hard copy? Which do you prefer?
Photo by Josef F. Stuefer, and I found it on Everystockphoto.