“I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” Truman Capote, Conversations With Capote, by Lawrence Grobel, 1985
I spent last week in Arlington, Virginia at a Marriott while my husband attended a conference. I wrote and ran for five days. Each day after my post-run shower, I found a quiet spot with chairs and a table near a window in a hallway near the conference rooms to work.
Before we left home, I had printed several chapters of the book on running. I took the pages and a fuchsia roller ball to my quiet spot and began hand-editing. I prefer pink to red. It’s more fun. I’d brought my laptop and could easily have carried it to the window seat. Or I could have stayed in our very nicely appointed room and sipped from a coffee made in the miniature coffee maker while I worked. I chose not to.
Stepping away from the computer prevented me from being tempted to check email or social media. Without adorable kitten videos to distract me, I spent several hours engrossed in the work. The world dropped away. With the tactile sensations of paper and pen between my fingers, the editing went well.
Back in November, during my reverse-NaNoWriMo, I worked directly on my laptop to reduce the book by 50,000 words. That technique worked then. Now, this second time going through the whole book, I prefer looking at printed pages. I do not have studies to cite, but I believe two slightly different parts of the mind are triggered by each of these techniques. I choose to tap both of them.
In my next writing session I’ll enter the changes from the hand-edited pages into the document using the laptop. In addition to the changes on the pages, I anticipate finding other things to revise as well. So this typing-in of the edits is yet another pass through the manuscript. Nothing is lost by this “extra” step.
Do you print out pages? What is your process? I’d love to hear about it.