Should you always print out your work?
The answer is like most things with writing – it’s subjective. It depends on the writer’s preference, resources, etc. Unlike most things in writing though, this question is often met with the same answer when it comes to a project that has twenty or more page – at least it should be.
Yes. Yes you should print.
The digital age has come with a lot of advancements. You can save multiple projects on a single plastic piece the size of your thumb. You can email videos and large important documents around the world. You can publish online, without sending one printed manuscript into the publisher (this depends largely on who you’re sending it to. Some places only take paper submissions).
Because of all these things, printing out your work has become less of a necessity, and more of an extra credit assignment.
Yet, I believe that printing out your work is an important step into editing and finishing your work, as well as a great way to save it. In today’s writing blog, I want to go over some of the reasons printing your work is a good idea, and how it can even help you improve your skill as a writer.
- You have the hard copy – One major downside to technology: Certain types of data aren’t going to be around forever, and neither are the formats you may have saved your work in. What is a DOC. X format now, could be a WORD4341. EXE (not real, just an example) document later. Instead of opening up your old file, you might end up opening a document full of illegible numbers, signs, and letters. If you have a hard copy, then you always have a paper copy to use when necessary. Technology changes, but once things are printed (unless you’re in the Harry Potter universe) the document can’t be corrupted, and the words stay in place.
- Editing is much easier – I have found that when you print, prior to writing your third or fourth draft, you get a better edit out of yourself.
Reasons for this are simple: You can take the work anywhere with you; you can read it in more comfortable places, and not from a computer where you first typed the piece (gives you the feeling of the reader. You can avoid the glare of computer screens, and you have more flexibility when it comes to navigating the page you’re on. You will also find when printing your work for editing, that you look at a single page much longer, and thus catch more imperfections.
- Marking out mistakes in pen is satisfying – Not only is it satisfying, but it leaves a better impression on the memory. When you physically strike out a mistake, rather than hitting the delete button, there’s a closer connection and a deeper memory being made, especially considering crossing it out emphasizes it, and it reminds you of the flaw you fixed. Using the red pen on your mistakes creates a better impression on the memory. There is an article in Scientific American that I will link below, which I urge you to check it. It discusses studies on this subject. They concluded that when you read on paper, you read more comprehensively, more accurately, and even quicker. Overall, it’s more efficient.
- Gives you more freedom to lend your work out – Do this carefully, and only with good friends and people you trust. You do this, before publishing, to get an idea of how the story will be received by readers, or to get it proofread. Having the hard copy makes your story more flexible, and you can lend it out for review easier. Just make sure you get it back. Printing is not cheap.
- Work old fashioned, produce old fashioned – When you print out your work and go to edit it, you separate yourself from the computer. You can pick whatever room you like (be sure it’s private) and read for hours on end, without distractions from Facebook, or games, or anything else that might be on your PC or Mac. Once again it gives you the reader feel.
Here is the article I mentioned earlier, I urge you to check it out, and the studies it links to: