When I started writing, I did so with pen and paper. Problem was I would get frustrated with what I said or have so many scribble marks on what I wrote that I would end up throwing what I wrote away. I kept doing this until a friend of mine made me promise that I wouldn’t. I’ve kept most of what I had from that time and the material is an interesting read when I pull the pages out. Now, when I say interesting, I mean there is more emotion behind the words then when I read some of those same words on the computer screen.
Writing on the computer, though, has helped keep me writing. Take this post, as an example. I had “crumpled” it by navigating away from the page, yet WordPress had auto-saved a draft. And now that I am reading the content again with a clearer head I actually like what I am reading!
Being able to store stuff on the computer has other advantages and disadvantages. Besides saving a few trees as ideas mature, computers can do basic grammar and spelling. And while their suggestions are good guidance that is all they considered as. A writer, or their editor, needs to make sure that the work flows and makes sense. A second set of eyes for is always good for the final tweaking. After a while of working on the same stuff, your brain is going to substitute what you are thinking for what you are reading, so a good writer can’t trust themselves to be their own editor.
Actually, the ability to continuously edit a piece on the computer is probably one of the biggest disadvantages, other than hardware failure without any backups. Writing or even typing on paper, there is a finite limit to how many times something is edited before the author finally feels that their work is as good as they can make it because of the tediousness of the process. By writing on the computer, changes and versions are saved with only one or two clicks, so it is easy to fall in the pattern of “I like this, but I’ll come back later and tighten these few things some more.”
But when does later become now? That’s a question I’m constantly asking myself. Of the three books that I’ve completed, I know that two of them definitely need some work. I don’t know how much longer I should continue to edit the third, though. Parts of the manuscript have needed enhancing, but other parts have become sterile because of over editing. That kind of lends itself to continuing the vicious cycle as I try to undo the changes I do not like while keeping the ones that I do.