Trees are a renewable resource.
I tell you this to head off your main objection to printing: you need to save those poor old trees that were viciously chopped down, dragged away, and turned into innocuous white pieces of printer paper. In fact, more trees will grow after that. It’s OK.
Now, let’s talk about why I believe printing is an essential part of the editing process.
Whenever we write something, we are intimately connected to it. The words we chose are expressions of our thought process. That’s why writing is so personal.
That’s also why it’s so hard to edit our own writing — we’re too close to it.
Also, when we read anything, we spend much of our time assuming how words end and skipping ahead. When we read our own writing, we do that even more because we already know which word is coming next.
Printing can help you look at your writing with fresh eyes. Printing can trick you into stepping back and slowing down. When you have that distance, it’s easier to spot that awkward phrase or missing word.
But I have no time to print everything, you say. I’m not saying you should print everything — after all, trees do grow slowly — but print what’s important and take the time to edit it. It will only add an extra few minutes to your day and your writing will improve immensely.
Here’s to the mighty renewable tree!