Wednesday 12 August 2015

Editing in pencil

Now that Camp NaNoWriMo has ended, my thoughts are turning to editing. Right now, I have two children's books, a short story anthology, and some fractured fairy tales sitting on my table calling for my editing pen.... or, rather, pencil.

For me, I find it easier to write a draft on the computer, then print it out and attack it with pencil. The pencil must be a sharp grey-lead pencil or it just doesn't seem to work quite as well.

 Printing out the story helps me to see it in a new light, especially if it's something that has been going around in my head for some time. It also means that I can easily change locations if I need to. It's not unusual to see me editing as I wait for the kids to come out of their various after school activities, though my kids start giving me a hard time if I'm reading the manuscript out loud.

My kids have also been known to pick up printed manuscripts, read them, and write their suggestions, also in a sharp grey-lead pencil. My 11 year old is great at picking up typos that I miss (and my editor misses), especially ones caused by auto correct.

I know that different people have different tools they use for editing. There are a lot of articles giving tips to authors on how to self edit to prove this. My essential tools are a print out of my manuscript and a sharp grey-lead pencil.

What are your essential editing tools?

Melissa Gijsbers lives in Melbourne and writes in between working as a bookkeeper and being the mother of two active boys. She is a blogger and author of flash fiction and children's books. Her first book, Swallow Me, NOW! is available now.

You can follow her writing journey at and


  1. Thanks for sharing. I always find other people's crafting ideas interesting. I find editing the hardest aspect of writing. I seem to spend an age proofing on the computer before finally printing it out for a read through - there's nothing like seeing the printed page. I've also started giving copies to several people (my Beta readers :)) for their thoughts - does the novel have overall flow, make sense, etc. I also use my search and destroy weapon (aka Find tool) to eliminate those overused words that seem to pop up too frequently!

  2. Thanks for your comment Carolyn. I also find that having the print outs sitting next to me, nagging me to edit them, helps me get through them :)

  3. Hi Melissa - I usually edit online - mainly because it takes up so much paper to print of 100,000 words. But one thing that helps is changing the font or the display so that the words appear differently on the screen. Also, leaving the manuscript 'rest' for a while (a few hours, preferably a few weeks) and coming back to it helps as well. Nola and I have just enrolled in the online version of The Year of the Edit - so it will be interesting to see what we learn :)


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