Reading what you wrote

I’m my own worst critic. In the seemingly neverending iterations of writing, reading, and editing, I’ve found that one thing that helps me to see my own writing from a different angle is to read it in a different format than the one in which I wrote it.

Today is my creative day, so I don’t have much time to blog (since I need to keep working on my book – but I promised myself I’d do at least one blog post per day for the first week and then at least once a week after that), but I’ll try and keep this short and sweet.

I like to try and set up my favourite writing software, LibreOffice Writer, so that I can see what I’m writing in a “book-like” format: two columns to a landscape page. Maybe it’s conceit on my part, but I enjoy imagining what it could look like as a finished product.

Book in LibreOffice

A screenshot of how I’ve formatted my book in my favourite writer (the text is deliberately smudged… I’m shy, sue me)

However, every once in a while, I find it extremely helpful to view it in a different format, especially one that I read “real” books in. Printing pages out on paper might work for some; personally, I enjoy reading books on my Android mobile phone during boring train rides to and from work. So I’ll save my book’s chapters as little text files, copy them to my mobile, and use CoolReader to read it like any other book.

This helps me to view my own work from a different perspective, to read it as though I’d never seen it, and therefore to take a step back, see the bigger picture, and be able to critique it without being in writing or editing mode, purely in reading mode.

Reading this way, I often find myself switching to a note-taking app to note down what I need to change, things I wouldn’t have found if I’d just read it in the same format in which I write. When I read a passage and completely forget that I should actually know exactly what’s going to happen next, I know it’s good.

What techniques do you use to help you read/write/edit more effectively? Do you prefer a relatively plain format of your book-in-progress, or do you style it up a certain way? Let me know in the comments.

About Amos M. Carpenter

Web dev by day, aspiring author by night, and generally interested in (and opinionated about) way too many things.

Posted on 5 March, 2014, in Tips, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Seeing your writing in a different format is definitely helpful, and I’m the same way – I’ll often convert my drafts to MOBI and plop them on my Kindle for a run-through (which conveniently has a built-in annotation feature).

    The other nice thing about this is the Kindle’s text-to-speech synthesizer. It may not sound perfect, but it’ll defeat expectation bias like none other when it comes to catching typos! (>^-‘)>

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Piscis. I’ve never had a Kindle, but that annotation feature sounds useful – I usually find myself switching back and forth between a reading and note-taking app. I might have to see if there’s an Android app for that….

  1. Pingback: A little wiser tomorrow | Amos M. Carpenter

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