Quick Tip: Editing in a Different Format

So I’m finishing up the edits on The Smashing Idea Book this weekend. I’ve got two chapters left to finish, and I decided to do what I thought was going to be a major revision on part of one of those chapters, basically combining two sections and cutting part of each. It’s been intimidating just thinking about this bit of revision, because it felt like such a huge change. I’ve sat here in front of my MacBook for hours just staring at the chapter, trying to figure out how to combine these two parts and make it all make sense and sound like it was meant to be that way all along.

I was getting nowhere. My deadline is tomorrow. I do not miss deadlines unless there’s something horribly, horribly wrong. I’m not about to start now.

Finally, I copied and pasted the two offending sections into a new document and printed them out. It’s only about nine paragraphs total, and it fit on a single page.

It took me ten minutes to do the necessary edits on paper. Ten. Minutes. After I’d spent hours looking at a screen and feeling very, very discouraged. What felt like a HUGE edit turned out to be rephrasing five sentences, adding one sentence, and moving three paragraphs. That’s it. That’s all it took.

I couldn’t see that when it was on my screen. I couldn’t get a glimpse of the big picture, and instead kept trying to focus on each individual part. Once it was on paper, in front of me, it immediately became apparent that the content wasn’t as disjointed between the two sections as I’d feared.

The moral of all this is that if you’re stuck on something during the editing process, try changing formats. Print it out. Upload it to your e-reader. Change the font. It will give you a new perspective and sometimes make what seemed like a daunting challenge a whole lot easier.

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3 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Editing in a Different Format

  1. This is a really good tip Cam. Maybe it will help me to finish my first book:)… I’ve been stuck in editing mode for about 9 months:(

    • It’s something I use for my fiction at times, or when I’m editing someone else’s work, and I’d forgotten just how useful a technique it could be!

  2. With my last book I uploaded the text to my Kindle to check. I still edited on the laptop but seeing the text in a different shape and in a different font makes a world of difference.

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