Donna Everhart

A Different Kind Of Clarity

Every day I get tidbits of information that help with writing.  Mostly the advice comes in email from other websites I automatically subscribe to, like Writer’s Digest, agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog,  and Janet Reid’s blog,, to name a few sources.  What I appreciate most is when I land on writing advice or a technique I don’t need to store away for future reference.  This is because half the time I forget I even have it, or if I happen to see it again, I might be passed the point of being able to use it.  I love reading about something for the here and now, with a current project.  This week, I’ve had two of these slide into view, like very timely and much needed reminders.

For example, from Writer’s Digest came the benefits of writing a fast first draft,

The thing about this fast first draft, I’ve done it previously – twice.  I’ve yet to figure out why I haven’t pushed myself harder on getting a rough draft in place for this third book.  I don’t know why I haven’t stopped myself from tweaking and nitpicking at every word.  In the back of my  mind I know why I’m doing this, but it doesn’t really mean I should.  If I’d read that article above a few months ago, I feel I’d have the thing done by now, like a reminder, hey, you’ve done it this way before, remember?  Anyway, I’ve decided, after reading this article, as well as seeing at least two other articles saying something similar, that I’ve got to do this or I’m going to be re-working the first one hundred pages for the next two years.

I’m also due to send this next bunch of pages off to my editor.  Which brings me to the second technique I’ve read about, and sort of goes against the first, at least at this point in my process.  It wasn’t written about in any writing newsletter I receive in my email.  I came across this technique when reading some comments by other writers on a blog.  They mentioned how they print their manuscript and work page by page, making notations off to the side.  I have no idea why I’ve never worked this way.  I’ve always revised my manuscripts the same way — directly on my laptop. So many seemed to do it this way, I thought, they must know something.  Let me just say, it brings a very different kind of clarity to my writing.  I can’t explain it, I won’t even try, but I love it.  I can see mistakes I’ve somehow skimmed right over, I can see ways to change a sentence or a place to put new words in, and most importantly, I think it can help tighten up what I have thus far.

Now, all I can do is wonder why it took me so long!  Maybe I was trying to save trees.  Maybe I was just being stubborn, refusing to think it could really help.

The question I have to ask myself is, why didn’t I try sooner?  Answer:  Beats me.

My question for you is, have you always worked this way and if so, do you see your work differently as well?



7 thoughts on “A Different Kind Of Clarity”

  1. I have worked that way. I will do everything I can, print it, and the revise and edit while reading the printed copy. Sometimes I’ll make the corrections on the laptop while read from the printed copy, but there’s something about the print copy that makes it easier to catch mistakes or needed changes.

    On a side note, I started descriptive writing with my seventh graders last week. I’ve been wishy washy about my criteria/demands on writing for junior high in the past. I was really strict last week about expectations and things like word choice and the kids stepped up for the most part. I was so excited.

    1. From this point on, now that I see what it can do, I will always print my work out! I can’t believe I’ve not done this before! One other tool I’ve always relied on is to read it out loud, well sort of whisper reading, and making the fixes then. Still, it’s a nice break away from the laptop, while still getting work done.

      I can only imagine how interesting and exciting that must be, especially to see real, raw talent in some of those students! Why do I picture you giving them a weekly writing prompt??? 🙂

      1. Oh yea – writing three days a week. (Grammar and nonfiction reading the other two days.)

        And I always tell my students to read their work aloud…your mind can’t autocorrect as much that way. When we do peer editing I have them sit in pairs and the person writing the piece listens to the partner read the peice…someone else will read your piece as it is actually written, which means you hear all kinds of mistakes you might not otherwise.

  2. I always, always, always, write (edit on-screen somewhat) then print, edit on paper and read it out loud, not by whisper, but as if my audience is more than my dog Harley but glad it’s not. Editing on paper is very important but it’s the reading out loud which catches the errors like poor rhythm and flow and more importantly, repeated words. It’s funny but I thought everybody did it that way.
    Jennine…love the peer reading. Too bad Harley doesn’t read. If he did I think he’d sound like Morgan Freeman.

    1. The reading aloud (as if to real people) – yeah, I’ve done that. My husband came in one day (I was upstairs doing this) and said, “who are you talking to??? LOL! But yes, all good tools – but it still beats me what took me so long to print to edit.

  3. I change things up all the time, but my method always involves paper. I’m sorry, trees, and I do recycle, but I just can’t see things as well on a screen. I love to be messy, maybe that’s it. The computer makes it all look far too neat.


    1. Well, (blush) I got this new “clarity” from you…you mentioned printing and working on your papers …but I took it for a printed ms. Either way, it just gave me another method to use and I can always, always use that… 🙂 XO

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