You Cant Always Believe What You See On Your Computer Screen
You may not remember this, but in the early days of the personal computer, many industry insiders were predicting a paperless society.
Of course, this hasn't happened. In fact, we use more paper today than we ever did before computers.
This has happened because computers have made creating everything from e-mails to articles to business plans so easy that there's been an explosion in document creation. Naturally, we decide some of these documents need saving. How do we save them? We print them out, and file them.
For example, when I finish a short story or an article or a novel, I not only save it on disk, I save a hardcopy that goes into a filing cabinet. You might do this, too.
But that's not the only time I print out a copy of my work. In fact, before a story or novel is finished, I might print it out as many as five or six times.
Because I've learned that I can't always trust what I see on my computer screen.
Sounds bizarre, I know. But believe me, it's true.
I discovered this the hard way, after the rejection of what I had believed was a solid short story.
Getting rejected is part of the business of being a writer. It happens to all of us. Most of the time, I don't think twice about it. I just submit to the next publisher and get back to work on something else. If a story gets rejected three or four times, then I sit up and pay attention. Because that's a sign there might be a problem.
But I was convinced this particular story had been good. So I printed out a copy and took it to lunch with me.
This was a story I had written and edited completely on screen. Words were words, after all. What did it matter if I wrote and edited on screen or in print?
Apparently, it mattered a great deal.
I discovered sentences that made no sense. Transitions that were clumsy. Words that were undeniably the wrong choice. It was stunning how different this story was from the story I had read on my computer screen.
Of course, they weren't any different. They were exactly the same.
But it was like seeing the forest on a bright sunny day as opposed to a foggy overcast morning. Every broken branch, every twisted knothole was suddenly clear and unmistakable.
I couldn't imagine a reasonable explanation for this. I still can't. But whenever I had the opporunity to talk with another writer, I asked if he or she had experienced anything similar.
To a person, they had all come to the same conclusion: you can't trust what you see on the computer screen. You have to print out a hardcopy and edit your work on paper.
As I said, I can't offer you an explanation. I can only tell you that it's true. Write your first draft on the computer. And for every draft after that ... print it out and mark it up directly on the paper. Your writing will be better for it.
If you don't believe me, try testing it for yourself.
You'll be shocked at the results you get.
David B. Silva
The Successful Writer
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