Last week I put a photo of my novel manuscript up on Facebook. 540 neat, pristine pages, tidily arranged in a precise block of paper.
“Just need to revise my revisions,” I updated with glee.
Today I give you the revised version of that manuscript. Liberally covered in post-it notes. And scrawly handwriting with such helpful tips as ‘write more here’. With any luck I will remember what that was all about when I go to input all my changes tomorrow.
I have been through this manuscript so many times I was sure it was clean. I knew I had to add in a few more bits, but I sincerely thought two or three post-its with ‘write more here’ would do it. It just goes to show you how different text looks when printed on a page. It is given a weight that it simply does not have on a screen. It reads differently. The eye picks up mistakes and repetition and the fact that there are several phrases that I use over and over again. Written quirks that need to be culled.
Last week I wrote a little post about bringing the fun back to blogging, as a way of avoiding the Post-it Note post. The one in which I point out the importance of printing out your manuscript and editing it with a red pen and, yes, a million post-it notes. Today, exactly a week later, I’m writing it anyway.
Print your words out. It puts a surprising distance between you and your initial thoughts. A surprising and useful distance. Read your words out loud. Then scrawl all over them with red pen. And mark the place with a Post-It note.
Some things in life, including editing, are best and easiest when done the old-fashioned way.
As an added bonus, I have depleted all my Post-It Note supplies and must now purchase new ones. Cute ones. Inspirational ones. I would never be without them.