Karolyn Sherwood, Author

A Better Way To Edit

They say a writer can’t edit his own work. In the end—as in, just before the work goes to print—that’s probably true. But right up until then, the writer has to do massive amounts of editing. Writing is rewriting. Who said that? Somebody famous, I think.

Many writers, myself included, like to print out our pages and edit with a pencil. I would surely cringe if I knew how many trees I’ve unwittingly felled for my selfish preference of printing out entire novels in order to “see” my mistakes. (The minute I finish this post, I’ll look into planting a tree somewhere.)

There’s just something about seeing one’s writing in a (semi)permanent form that makes those misplaced commas and homophones jump right off the page. There instead of their, anyone? Exactly. After all the marking of all the changes, I go back to my keyboard and start at Page One with my edits. If you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about. And aren’t we all writers, if you really think about it?

Ok, so I buried my lead, but here’s my Better Way To Edit: When I have pages that need to be polished, I now Export them to a PDF, then email the PDF to myself and read it on my iPad like an ebook. (I use Apple products; the process might be different for different devices.) Most importantly, though, is that the effect is the same. When your work is in a non-changeable form, the errors seem more glaring. Typically, when I do this, I take my iPad and my laptop to my favorite sofa, and read my work on my tablet. When I find a mistake, or think a sentence can be improved, I grab my laptop, make a quick change, and go back to reading from the PDF. When I’m done, I’m done.

TaDa! No more wasted trees! No more guilty conscience! A better way to edit!

All right, now about my carbon footprint …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz: