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Home > Blog > Editing trick
Out of Our Minds
Sunday, May 16, 2004 8:35 PM
Editing trick
David Weinberger on Creativity

I do a lot of re-writing, which is to say that I do a lot of bad writing. Like most people, I have to leave a piece alone for at least a day or two before I get any perspective on it. But it's always struck me as odd that it helps a lot if I print the piece out, even though it looks on paper just as it does on screen. Somehow, seeing the ink on paper helps me read what I've written as if I weren't the one who wrote it.

Now I have a further little mystery. In order to save paper, I usually use Word's ability to print two pages on a single sheet; it reduces the font and prints in landscape mode. But recently I've discovered that I get the same fresh perspective if I edit the piece on screen showing side-by-side pages. I don't know why.

If only there were similar tricks to see not just how what we write looks to others, but what we do...


2 comments

Matt Huebert - 5/18/2004 4:27:05 PM
I'm all for joining the hunt for the actions-mirror.

If I had to speak in front of a hundred people every day for ten minutes, I guarantee that my personal efficiency would hit never-before-seen levels. I excel under that kind of pressure because I know that my work is going to be under the scrutiny of others: the assignment itself changes the way I see myself (and I know that I can be damn good at it, so I'm motivated to show it.)

If, however, I am working by myself on my own business (say, a website which does not yet have an audience) I find it difficult to get the perspective needed to excel. The quality of my work will still be good, but the path my mind takes to get from A to B could at best be described as a labyrinth.

Perhaps pressure is the answer? The pressure of knowing that my actions are being scrutinized?

When I do work on my own, my thoughts are wishy-washy and I'm very open-minded, always looking for more information (perhaps this is a good thing).

But when I am put to the test (could be a real 3-hour exam, or a supervised project), instantly all of these divergent thoughts converge, my thoughts crystalize and I am able to operate efficiently, effectively, quickly.

My question is, how can I get this fast-paced effective mindset working for me more often?
Corey - 5/17/2004 12:20:00 PM
I use Word's text-to-speech functionality to have my text read back to me. I find it an incredibly valuable tool since the computer reads the text and punctionation literally and awkward sentances stand out immediately.

It isn't super-easy to get set up the first time, but once its running it is totally simple to use.

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