Easing into the Future

Edith here, roasting north of Boston.

I’m in that stage of revisions on my work-in progress (Quaker Midwife Mystery #4) where I print out the manuscript and spend a couple of days at the dining table with a colored pen and words on paper. Last week Ramona DeFelice Long, my dear friend, editor, and writer, wrote a blog post about how she no longer prints out her manuscripts.

Even though using expensive ink smarts, and watching all that paper crank through my printer does, too, I can’t abandon my paper readthroughs. I do it three times during my writing/revision process. Right now is the first time, after I have finished the first draft and addressed all my self-queries I had saved for later (things like, Did the Meetinghouse have a furnace in the basement? Did the post office have lockable individual post boxes? What went on during the winter on the frozen river? And so on).Β Paper readthrough

Reading straight through shows me continuity issues, weak plot points, and the flow of the book. I see the words differently on paper, too. I’ll do it again just before I send it off to be edited, and again before I send it to my publisher.

I don’t, however, write original content on paper (unless I am absolutely stuck somewhere with time on my hands and no laptop), and would never go back to that.

In other areas I also have a foot in both the paper and the digital worlds. We pay almost all our bills by writing an actual, old-fashioned check and sending it in an envelope with a stamp on it. I know I could do it all online, but there’s something about sitting down with the checkbook that feels safer, and is also a link to the past. I can picture my father doing the exact same thing.

calendarI’m a convert to Google calendar. I love it! It’s on both my computers and on my phone., and it sends me handy reminders. I don’t even need the appointment card from the doctor any more – I just poke the appointment into my phone and we’re done. But I also use a paper calendar at my desk, and we keep one downstairs, too. I like that visual reminder of what’s coming up and what has already happened.

I prefer to read books on paper. That said, having a Kindle is a boon for traveling or for trying out a book from a new author I can’t get from the library or am not sure I want to own.

A couple parts of my life that are reassuringly old-fashioned are cooking and gardening. I just don’t see those going digital any time soon (although I do often find recipes online, so there’s that).

Readers: what about you? Are you all digital all the time, or straddling the worlds as I am? What’s your favorite analog thing, and your favorite digital?

42 thoughts on “Easing into the Future

  1. I straddle as well, but more digital these days as my damaged right (writing!) hand is not playing ball as often as I would like. I use a kindle for reading (with some paper books as well), I’ve not used Google Calendar (hmm will have a look) but I have used (and still do use) Cozi – I still use my Filofax though! (or Fullomyth as we call it in remembrance of the late great Sir Terry Pratchett).

  2. I have a foot in both the past and the present too, Edith. Paper checks and stamps for bills? Yep. Both Google calendar and paper? Yep. I have a Nook for travel, samples, and ARCs to be blurbed, but much prefer paper. And I can’t quite give up my printout read-through either, although I usually only do it once, maybe twice if a book needs heavy revisions. I just like scribbling all over paper and using lots of colorful Post-it flags.

  3. My house is full of vintage, I cook dinner from scratch (almost) every night, I still hand-write thank you notes, I start every story in longhand, and I hand write in a couple of journals. Apart from that, give me technology–especially auto-paying bills. Great invention! But I hate the encroaching on my life by my iPhone. Yesterday, when there were flash flood warnings in the area, it kept sending out loud, obnoxious emergency alerts. I wanted to throw it in the toilet.

  4. Very similar in straddling! My daughter has been trying to convert me to Google calendar, but I have been doing it very slowly, only entering new things, not playing catch up yet with old. I do like the idea that it is available across my devices. I love sending mail. I am that friend who pops a card or note into the mail even when it’s not your birthday!

  5. I’m like you, Edith. Because we have three people to track, we keep a 11X17 wall calendar on the kitchen door and use it to track appointments and work schedules for the whole family. I have an 8.5X11 paper planner too with all that stuff and my writing deadlines in in. I tend to not keep stuff in the online calendar because it doesn’t alarm no matter how many alerts I set for it – I’m not sure why, it’s three different phones now so ….

    I love my Kindle for samples and books I need to read for panels. One of my favorite writers is eBook only release at first and I am not going to do without Karen Cantwell’s latest book as soon as it comes out. I find I can only do samples of reference books on the Kindle – if I’m getting it, I need it in paper.

    And I’m on my second printout of the current manuscript. I need to be able to write notes, clip pages together indicating a move of a large swatch of story, highlight in different colors to indicate different actions. For my final read-through before turning it in, I’ll turn it into a PDF and upload it to my Kindle to give it the ‘real book’ read. πŸ™‚

  6. Morning, Edith. I’m still less technology and more old fasioned, writing checks, using a paper calendar and so on. But I do read more books on my iPad than in paper (old eyes) and compose on the computer. The biggie is that I print out a fresh copy of each day’s work. No matter how many electronic backups I make, that’s the only way I feel certain something won’t get lost in cyberspace. Like you, I revise on printouts. I can spot problems much easier that way. Then of course, I have to put the changes into the doc file while I can still read my handwriting and figure out where the stuff marked with asterisks and arrows is supposed to go. I often write inserts up to a couple of pages by hand and revise those as I type them into the file. I figure I do about three extra revisions this way, which is all to the good. Also gives me a change of scene. I can leave my office and work on the porch in nice weather.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

  7. I am mostly digital. My handwriting is…not good, so everything is on the computer from first draft to read throughs. I stopped doing paper when I could no longer interpret my notes (even to myself). Bills are mostly online or auto-pay. I hate paying for stamps. Online calendar – yep. If it doesn’t exist in my phone’s calendar, it doesn’t exist. Where I’m mostly analog is reading. I do a lot of physical books, but like you I’ll buy newer authors on ebook to try them out and I love a good ebook sale.

    The weather alert thing is your cell service, not the phone. Nothing says “the world is coming to an end” like being in a room with 15 people who all get the severe weather alert at the same time. πŸ™‚

  8. I wrote about Traveler’s Notebook, and the analog journaling I do. Bot I am a Google calendar gal, and have discovered their Keep App for lists. I pay everything online.

    For my writing, I plot on paper and cards. Then I put it all in Scrivener. I am experimenting with voice transcription. Then I print, edit, and try to transcribe my red marks.

    But I read Ramona’s post last week, and am trying to edit this round on the computer. There isn’t a lot of moving around of scenes going on. Now it is wordsmithing, clarifying, adding details. I’m finding that it’s working. Will let you know if I feel compelled to print this puppy out before I hit send next week.

  9. We have very similar processes. I also revise/edit on hard copy though my final read of the manuscript is done on my iPad. I save the file so I can open it up in iBooks, it gives me another reading view to catch things. We still send in checks for payments and I read both print and digital books. I love that we have options now.

  10. I use both analog and digital for books, for calendars for some other things. I worked as a technical editor several years ago and everyone edited digitally except me. It took me months to even start getting used to doing it digitally. For long documents, I still like to print it out and work, pencil to paper. Use my Outlook calendar heavily but…

    I started a project with my grandkids several years ago in which I wanted them to learn about certain types of “Holidays” and relatives birthdays and anniversaries. Calendars with appropriate stickers like cupcakes for birthdays and fireworks for Fourth of July, trees for Arbor Day. Very visual. Now I have my own to remind me to send cards! Analog and digital! Hard to leave one behind!

  11. I’m laughing because I am just the opposite. We’ve paid bills electronically for years. Both Bill and I traveled extensively for business, and for the past several years have lived in three different places over the course of the year, none of which would have been easy with paper bills and checks.

    But I cling stubbornly to my paper calendar. When Bill and I meet to sync up about twice a month, I spend all my time sitting, waiting, while he tap-tap-taps things into his computer. Drives me crazy.

    I compose in Scrivener, but edit on paper. For my last book, I was staying in a place that didn’t have a printer. I sent the whole manuscript to Office Depot for printing and picked it up. But as we got to the end and it was just page-by-page stuff, I tried doing it online. It was kind of a disaster, and I got a sternly worded note from my editor about typos, so it’s back to paper for me.

  12. I write my reviews on a computer – except last year when I was on vacation with my family. I actually took paper to write out reviews of books I finished since I knew I’d forget points by the time I got home.

    I much prefer physical books. I get why people love Kindles, but I need to hold the actual book, know how many pages and chapters it is, etc. There’s just something about it.

    I love my DVR, and I wouldn’t go back to recording my shows on a VCR if you paid me.

  13. Straddler here. I just started putting my appointments into my cell phone calendar and clock. Wow! Life is so much easier. My Harry Potter alarm is so amusing. I also have the paper calendar at the office. Before I leave work every day, I make a photocopy of it so I’ll know if I have to dress up the next day or if I can ride my bike. And I still print out everything I write for proofing at work and when writing. I see more when I do. Don’t know why but there you have it.

  14. I’m mainly digital for most things now, including my first draft and revisions. I do make lightweight outlines by hand and if caught in a pinch will write some of the first draft by hand, but very seldom anymore. It used to be that I could only write the first draft by hand. It just felt like it “flowed” onto the paper better, almost like painting. I’ve rounded the curve on that, though. The last couple of years, everything’s on the computer.
    And, I know this is almost like treason for an author, but I love reading everything on my Kindle. I’d rather read from it than anything. Probably because of all the features. It’s back-lit, I can diddle with the font, and I love the little book mark. I’ve converted, completely. Don’t pelt me with tomatoes! I just re-touched my hair! lol
    I think my conversion began when my hubby bought me my Kindle and I eyed it ominously every night when I curled up to read. One night I wanted the latest Stephen King release and forced myself to pick up the Kindle. I thought, it’s shopping. You get to shop in your pj’s. You can do this. And I did. And I was amazed and thrilled with browsing all the book covers, while curled up in bed. I never looked back. A dedicated shopper knows when they’ve struck pay dirt! πŸ™‚

    • See? It isn’t treason! It’s just different strokes for different folks. Even what works for us at one point in our lives might change at another point. It’s all good, Loretta.

  15. I’m mostly digital. I couldn’t edit my MS without Review and Word Search. Pay bills online, mostly. Love autopay. I buy/read old school books but also do many audiobooks. No e-books or Kindle yet, but soon. I buy books online. Can’t live without digital calendar. I transgress with old- fashioned handwritten lists which decorate house everywhere and often cause confusion, like when I lose the list. I should put it all in my digital calendar but there’s something deeply satisfying about making a list, and crossing things off.

  16. I find I enjoy reading ebooks on my laptop using the Kindle app: I don’t have to hold a book, which can be hard on arthritic wrists! And on the days when my eyes are feeling a little tired I can enlarge the print if necessary. The only downside is I have so little data with my server that I have to carry the laptop into town to download the eoboks using public wifi.

  17. Edith, it pains me to see that you are “roasting north of Boston” as I will be heading to that exact location this week when my first grandchild decides to make her appearance. I’d hoped for a respite from the Louisiana heat.
    I edit on my computer as I write, then print off the completed manuscript and do some serious work. Last week I read my latest book out loud to myself, as several authors have suggested. I ended the process with a sore throat and many errors that my editing had missed.
    As for calendars, I keep one on Google and another detailed paper one, and I still manage to miss appointments. The best thing about digital books is that they enable me to take a stack of reading on vacation without taking a stack of books. I once ran out of reading material in China and found a bookstore in Beijing that must have had at least a hundred different editions of Gone with the Wind but little else in English.

  18. I do my final proof on paper–that seems to work best
    I used iCal for years after moving up to Durham. Now that Apple broke into a calender and a separate (clunky) reminder list, I paid for BusyCal and I’m very happy.
    Hate reading on screens if I can avoid it. I stare at theme enough during the work day.

  19. I write all of my first drafts by hand into spiral notebooks, but every draft after that is in Scrivener. I also do all my reading in physical book form (I just can’t get into reading on a Kindle) but there is one gigantic exception. Fan fiction, for whatever reason, I prefer to read on my husband’s ereader. Maybe because I first started reading it on a computer screen so it’s always been digital?

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