When to Push Print? Editing on the Page vs. Screen

Now that my second novel is out of first draft status, it’s time for some edits! I’ve been back and forth on whether I should print out the document, break out the red pen, and edit like I mean it; or just start from the beginning of the digital document, start deleting and retyping, and save some paper and ink.

Push Print

Printing out the document means:
1. I can see it all in real-time.
2. Flipping actual pages doesn’t result in accidentally deleting something.
3. I can read it anywhere. No screen glare to block me.
4. Making notes is a little easier–no extra step for commenting in a different color.
5. I’m using precious ink and paper, but it’s for a good cause.

There’s nothing like putting pen to paper. Some still write the old fashion way right from the beginning, or use a typewriter to craft their story. Even while I choose to do most of the writing and rewriting digitally, I find it is helpful to print it out every so often and see what the words look like on paper. Further along in the editing process, I try to step outside my mind that thought of these words and read it in a new perspective. This is easier to do once it’s escaped my word processing program and landed on the printed page.

Digital Document

Some may forgo the printer, and keep it all online because:

1. Making edits to the doc file is as easy as deleting/rewriting. There’s no white-out, erasing, crossing out, or other editorial marks to make.
2. Edits may lead to a new burst of inspiration, so you can keep writing while editing and still be able to decipher it later. There’s less mess in the margins.
3. No trees were harmed in the editing process. There was no ink shed.

Editing can get messy. Constantly crossing out, inserting, and moving phrases and paragraphs leaves a kind of treasure map on the page that you must follow to find the story. Keeping all the edits digitally can help keep it all organized and easy to read.

So what did I do?

After a certain point of editing digitally, I pushed print and continued the process with my mighty pen. It’s starting to get a little messy, but I’m also giving myself a chance to revisit these edits when I go back and make them in the digital document, and then I can decide once and for all if it was the right move.

Whatever edits are made, the main idea is to keep the story moving forward, whether it lives on the page or screen.

What’s your editing process like?

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