Editors have options. With today’s technology there are two primary ways to edit – digitally or classically (a.k.a. the red pen). If someone hires you to edit their work, make
sure you use the technique he or she prefers, but when it comes to reviewing your own work don’t throw out your pens just yet. Red ink has some benefits that you might not have at your computer.
1. Change of scenery: My desk is my writing sanctuary. When I’m there, I’m plotting and planning and creating. It’s not always easy to edit in that environment. Printing out a copy of my article or a chapter of my novel lets me enjoy a fresh atmosphere, giving my brain the illusion that I’m looking at the writing with a fresh pair of eyes. Having a writing spot and an editing spot can help get you in the right mind set for your work.
2. See what’s really there: I can’t explain the science behind it, but many editors (including me) have noticed that we tend to catch more errors when we have a hard copy in front of us. I don’t know if it’s the brightness of the paper or the smooth scroll of the pen across the page. Regardless, there’s something about holding and writing on a manuscript that highlights those hard-to-find writing mistakes.
3. Feel better: Numerous studies have shown that the glare and brightness of computer/tablet/television screens may effect your sleep habits. It’s also important for your posture and health to get out of your desk chair and move every 30-60 minutes. Editing a hard copy gives you an excuse to turn the monitor off for an hour our two and work outside (or on the couch or at the kitchen table). Give your eyes a little free time without the artificial light and give your body some time away from your computer desk.
The convenience of and waste-free option of digital editing can save time (and money), but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best option for all occasions. Keep your printer on and your pens nearby, just in case.