Three different sets of eyes went over the manuscript for “Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul.” My daughter, who’s also a writer, read it. I edited it as I wrote it, and read the rough draft from beginning to end more than once.
Finally, a former newspaper colleague gave it a careful going-over, to the point of testing each URL to make sure it worked. (Fun fact: Some of them didn’t, no matter how careful I thought I’d been.)
So guess what I found when I read the finished book?
Yep: Mistakes. Several of them. Not glaring, but noticeable to me.
Recently I finished the rough draft of “Your Playbook For Tough Times, Vol. 2: Needs And Wants Edition.” This time around I’m going to do what an author friend did: Edit the thing on paper.
I used to do this as a newspaper reporter, when complicated articles began to blur after a fourth or fifth on-screen reading. So I’d print out my draft and find a quiet spot to read. Seeing it on paper made the work more real, somehow, and errors quickly announced themselves. Reading it out loud helped, too.
For a couple of decades I’ve been hearing predictions of a “paperless office.” Hasn’t happened yet, you notice. While it bothers me to use up a couple of hundred pieces of paper on a rough draft, it bothers me even more to have a book come out with mistakes in it.
I’m not sure why the errors in the original didn’t show up on the screen as I edited. All I know is that those mistakes leapt out at me when I saw them on a physical page vs. an electronic one. Since I don’t want that to happen again, I’ll bite the bullet and take my small business credit card over to Office Max to print out the manuscript.
My partner is also going to give the paper version a read-through, bless his heart. Once he’s had at it, I’ll add those marked-up pages to our used-paper pile. Put into the printer upside-down, they’ll be fine for letters or other short printing jobs. We just cross out the “used” side.
Maybe this isn’t a problem for you. Maybe all your writing just falls from your fingertips onto the keyboard and then to the screen. Lucky you!
But if you’re having trouble getting a line of dialogue or an expository paragraph just right, try printing it out and/or reading it aloud. The errors might be easier to spot, and you’ll have a feel for how your language works (or doesn’t).
P.S. Using a red pen is optional.
(The original “Playbook” can help freelancers and other starving artists get the most bang for their bucks. Here’s what personal finance author and nationally syndicated radio host Clark Howard says about the book: “Donna writes with a laser-sharp focus on strategies that will help you through tough times. … (Her) advice can inspire hope if you feel that you’ve reached a personal or financial dead end.” And as one Amazon reviewer noted, using just one of the tactics one time will pay the cost of the book. Visit my payment platform and use the code WABPWR to get the e-book for just $5.)