The writing process is something that constantly evolves. Over the course of my educational career, I’ve come to realize that writing is often painful, time-consuming, and is less about natural talent than about dedication and hard work. My most recent paper taught me a valuable lesson about the editing and revising process– I work better when I have a printed copy of my work.
Let me provide some background here. As important as I know editing and revising to be, I usually gloss over these steps. I justify this by claiming that I edit and revise while I’m in the process of writing. Today, however, as I looked over a copy of a paper I was about to hand in, I suddenly realized that I had put a comma instead of a period at the end of one of my paragraphs. At first, I figured it wasn’t a big deal. But that one mistake made me start looking more closely at the rest of my paper. Having a hard copy of my work let me engage with it in a way that I’m not able to do when it’s on a computer screen. I felt almost detached from my writing, and able to critique it with fresh eyes. Hours of staring at a glowing computer screen in the early morning hours were no comparison to spending twenty minutes in the sunshine with a pen in hand scrawling comments on my own work.
I’m not saying that everyone needs to print out their papers to be effective editors. But what I am suggesting is that trying new things in your editing and revising process can help you improve personally as a writer. Not every tip you’ll ever get about writing will prove effective for you, but you won’t know until you try. I’ve been guilty in the past of dismissing suggestions about writing because I did well on essays. The important thing to remember is that there’s always room to grow.
What are some of your best or most surprising writing tips?