Because I drink too much caffeine, one day my finger was shaking over my keyboard, and I inadvertently shrunk my Print Preview down to 10%.
Talk about seeing your manuscript from a new perspective!
When I revise, I highlight areas that need work. The amount of yellow in my manuscript shows me how much work I’ve yet to do. Here is a Print Preview of several pages from the last quadrant of my novel in its current state:
As you can see, I still have miles to go before I query. Put the coffee on. It’s going to be a long night.
I dare you to open up your manuscript and view its Print Preview. At the very least, you will be amazed at all those words you wrote–your entire novel splayed out before you.
The main thing is to get a new perspective on your work.
7 Ways to Get Perspective on Creative Writing
1. Use the Print Preview
Look at the manuscript from far away. Is it even? Are some chapters big and bulky while others are light and filled with white space? Is there a reason for that? If not, fix it. Make all those pages look like they’re from the same manuscript.
2. Print it Out
If you’re writing a novel, don’t print a new copy every day, but you deserve to see that bad boy printed out at least once. It makes your whole office smell like a book factory. You struggled to push that 300-page beast out of your imagination, and when you print it, you get a real tangible thing you can hold. That’s some powerful stuff. If you have an environment-saving judge in your head, try:
- printing double-sided
- printing 4 pages to each one page (or 2 pages on each page depending on your eyesight)
- printing on the back of used paper
3. Put it in a drawer
The drawer method harkens back to when all manuscripts were paper. You’d print out your fresh manuscript and stick it in a drawer. Then you’d go live life for a while. You come back in six weeks or so, open the drawer, and being a new person, you can suddenly see all of the things you couldn’t see before.
4. Sleep on it
The sleep-on-it method works for people who want perspective but don’t have sixty days to wait. You don’t even need to print for this. Just shut down your computer and go to bed. Edit it in the morning. Even one night is enough to give you perspective.
5. Read it aloud
I’m not talking about quietly whispering to yourself. Read that thing like you mean it. Like you hear it in your mind. Like you’re performing it on Broadway.
6. Have someone else read it aloud
The more you read something, the more difficult it gets to see it. Your brain is working on what it thinks is there. It will fill in missing words. It will look at a word you’ve written a few million times and question the spelling. Other people will stumble over clunky sentences that you’ve mastered. You don’t want readers stumbling. You want them gliding to the next page with zero hesitation.
7. Workshop it
In a writers’ workshop, a bunch of writers read your work and then talk about it as if you weren’t there. You’re not allowed to chime in and say, “What you don’t understand is…” That’s what a lot of us want to do–explain to people what they should have taken from it. Workshop let’s you see what people DID take from it. You don’t get to explain it. You have to edit to get the response you intended.
My favorite method to gain perspective is printing out the manuscript, but the environmentalist in me judges me for that. I sometimes print anyway. It’s that important to me to see ink on paper.
Are you a writer? What methods do you use to get perspective?