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Write on screen, edit on paper

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
1 min read

This is a great interview with Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, which recently won the Pulitzer and happens to be the book I’m currently reading (iPad app, actually).
Egan says lots of sensible things, especially for those of you who, like me, combine writing fiction with another type of writing (journalism for Egan, copywriting for me).

There was one other thing that caught my eye though:

I print out and save all my drafts and I number them so if I start to have that experience of something good having disappeared, I can go through them and I can dig back to what I’m looking for. I distrust the continuous present of a screen because there’s no history there.

To a point, I share that same distrust. I write on screen and I’m generally happy to do very low-level editing on the fly. However, when I edit properly, as in when I really want to analyse what I’m writing, I always work on a printed version.

I find that this separation – writing on screen, editing on paper – really helps me organise my thoughts. There’s a lot to be said for writing in margins. Not only does it provide a more tangible history of my work, it slows me down and forces me to be more analytical.

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.