the importance of paper

I've nearly finished something I haven't done before: A complete paper edit on my first draft.

Every page of draft one looks like this now:

Two things to take note of.

1st: that little red thing is an egg timer. Fact: editing sucks. Fact: I am easily distracted. Add these two things together and you end up scrolling the endless bowels of reddit instead of finishing your book. (note. you may replace reddit with pintrest, facebook, g+ -- sheesh even myspace or TV tropes if it please you... the result is the same.)

Solution = egg timer. My wife put me onto this trick. Apparently loads of people swear by it and now my voice can join their chorus. Hearing the tick-ticking of that time machine count down 60 minutes is an amazing focusing device. It is akin to doing 'couch to 5k' or any other gamification of an arduous activity to make it more bearable. In the end it works.

Turns out if you break the process of drafting into much more digestible slabs of 60 minutes then at the end not only have I gotten more done, but I also feel more motivated to continue. Cup of tea, wind the timer back to 60 and lets go again. I am Pavlov's dog.

But onto the main point of this post: Paper.

As you may be able to tell from the state of my handwriting I have an aversion to pens and papyrus. The Dragon and the Crow did begin life as a doctor's scrawl in a series of notebooks, but once I made the transition to digital I never looked back. Paper was for publishing -- or so I thought.

Turns out there is nothing like the linear demands of pages to keep you moving forward. And if there is one thing I have learned this year it is the importance of moving forward.

A paper edit is essentially your chance to read your book for the first time. Writing the first draft of anything is like stumbling through the jungle with a machete. You may get somewhere, but all the cuts and bruises you received  take away your perspective.

Today I was in the middle of scrawling some note about the plot logic into the margin of page 99 when I realised what my book was all about. I had thought it was one thing, but it turns out it is another. And knowing this means I can tweak the start, draw out those threads and brambles and make the message clearer.  Thank you paper.

This perspective is impossible buried in the non linear mindset of a word processor. God -- word processor. There is a horrible name for a piece of technology. Word assembler would have been better, Digital Writer would have been even better -- but Processor...

Anyway - the point is that at some point you need to read your work as much as you write...

When in doubt: Print.



  1. Funny, I love editing. But then that's my day job. And I think my problem's more about finding an hour rather than sticking to an hour...

    Plus, I don't like eggs. Maybe a Filet Mignon timer.

  2. Perhaps editing other people's work is easier. With my own it feels like three steps forward and four steps sideways. I've never been a good dancer.

    The egg timer actually helps me find those hours as normally I am able to trick myself that unless I have an entire afternoon to work then there is no point starting at all. This way I treat it like a game and am able to squeeze in time where before I would waste it.

    Thanks for stopping by, Bryan.



Post a Comment

Popular Posts