Seeing Your Name in Print

A couple of weeks ago I finished writing my fictional blog. My critique partner sent it back to me and to go over her notes, I printed it out. It had been a long time since I’d printed one of my stories. I finished my novel over a month ago but I haven’t done the honors yet, so that makes it…my first novel in September 2009. As I watched the pages curl out of the printer, I was amazed at how much I’d written. 70 pages, exactly. I felt a huge sense of pride as I held my blood, sweat, and tears in my hands. It got me thinking–why don’t I do this more often?

Okay, okay, there’s the environment thing, which admittedly, is a concern. But I want to propose the argument that writers are using less paper than ever now. Remember the times when you had to rewrite an entire page every time you misspelled a single word or the loop on your “e” wasn’t big enough so it looked too much like a “c” and the more you tried to fix it, the darker it got until it was the only letter on the page you could see? How many pages did you throw away for that reason alone?

People used to hand write all of their stories, in notebooks and journals and on those yellow legal pads. It wasn’t convenient and rewrites must have been hell but there had to have been something supremely satisfying about watching the pages pile up, stacking the notebooks in the corner and having a visual reminder of how much you’ve accomplished. Now we just close up our laptops, tuck them away, and go over tomorrow’s to-do list, without realizing how much we’ve already gotten done. Out of sight, out of mind.

I think it’s time we start printing again. Not necessarily for every draft or every little change, but maybe as you plug away at that first draft, and the months pass by, and you wonder why you’re still doing it after all this time, it might be a good time to print out your work. Look at how much you’ve done. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Hell, throw it on your bed and roll around in it. Put it in your mom’s lap the next time she asks, “So what do you do with all that free time of yours, anyway?”

Humanitarians will hate me for this so here’s my public service announcement: recycle. You can do it yourself by printing on the back of old documents or, just throw that inked up rough draft in the recycle bin when you’re done.

My writing service announcement: writers work their asses off and often don’t get as much credit as they deserve (not even from ourselves). Give yourself the gift of seeing your name in print, the reminder that your words aren’t lost in the sea of your hard drive, the totem of all your hard work.

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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Comments (6)

  1. I agree. I also see things on hard copy that I miss while reading on the screen.

    Besides, there’s another benefit to having a copy in print: Computer files can fail. I was working on Beauty and the Ballplayer and suddenly, the last 30 or so pages were gone. Luckily, I had a hard copy, so all I had to do was retype — not rewrite — the ending.

    On the other hand, I searched high and low for the latest version of Brad & Erin’s story (which I did not print out) and couldn’t find it — until after I tried to rewrite it again. Finally, I found it on a flash drive I’d forgotten I had. The first rewrite was vastly superior to the one I just tried to do a few weeks ago.

    1. Very good points! I wasn’t even thinking of that aspect but you’re very right. We’ve all become so reliant on our computers I think we’ve forgotten that a paper copy is the ultimate backup. I’m glad you found all of your stories! I’d die if I lost any of mine!

  2. Very very good points. I can apply this same concept to my line of work. I look at the screen over and over again. And its not until its printed on paper that I see the “errors”. I think the computer screen masks them until its printed, then they magically appear. lol

    1. Lol! You’re so right! I was working on something the other day and thought I had it perfect until I printed it out. I worked on it for an hour after that!

  3. A woman after my own heart! While I’ve cut back on needing Tylenol since switching from typewriter to computer, I miss the energy that I felt when writing on a typewriter, especially the sense of accomplishment each time I would finish a page and add it to the pile. Plus, there was never the worry of a computer crash or power outage erasing your words, lol! I do the same: I always print out a copy of my writing before revising. I’m not sure why the errors are easier to see on paper versus screen, lol, but I find the polishing to be less stressful. Maybe it’s because when we’re writing out the revisions it helps us see the project take shape as a whole, as opposed to piece by piece? It gives me the confidence in knowing I didn’t miss anything that needed to be fixed.

    1. I think it must be the way the eye sees it because you’re so right, errors practically scream at you on the printed page. All around I think printing is just good practice. Writers use very little physical tools for their craft so don’t take our paper too! Lol!

      Keep piling up those pages!

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