Cut and Paste has its Limits

Try Really Cutting Your Work (With Scissors)

By Annette Rey

I suppose you have heard of flow-of-thought writing. That is when you write like the wind, putting down your thoughts and making no pauses for corrections.

For me, this works best when I have a subject in mind. Take a word like alcoholism. If you are familiar with that, have family members afflicted, have put on a few hangovers yourself, you can take that subject and roll with it.

Write. Write. Write.

I did just that. And while what I created was good, it now needed work to organize those thoughts into a chronological order. I cut and pasted in a new document and it got pretty confusing. I didn’t like where I placed a lot of paragraphs so, I started over. I didn’t like that result and got pretty frustrated.

Then I thought of something I read some time ago. A writer took a scissors and laid her severed article on the floor for viewing. I’ve always been good at jigsaw puzzles and that trick sounded pretty good to me. So I printed my document and cut my paragraphs and laid them out. I rearranged the order many times and read it through from the beginning each time. It was fun to see how meaning and emphasis could change depending on a paragraph’s position.

It was a really good exercise. My thoughts were clear and something about the tangibility of my words made organization easy. I took a picture of the final placement of my paragraphs, and referencing it, I quickly retyped the piece.

If that sounds like a lot of work to you, believe me, I should have used this procedure sooner. It saved a lot of time in the end. And I ended up with a cohesive piece.

Give this idea a try the next time you have a lengthy piece that just doesn’t seem to be hanging together somehow.

Seeing is believing.



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