Printing out your writing can be a great boon to your writing, especially with the editing stage. Printing, instead of viewing it on a screen, allows us to see the words differently, literally, especially if you change the font so it looks very different. This forces our brain to read the words instead of assuming that we know what it says, which is what happens when you look on a screen.
This process can be very expensive, however, if you do it yourself. My printer at home would take at least two cartridges to print out an entire book – plus I’d have to sit there and mother it and feed it new paper periodically. That’s £40, plus paper for me. I’ve done some printing on one of the fancy LaserJet printers in the past and, while it took less cartridges, it drains a lot of one and they’re about £60. That’s a lot of money to print one copy of my book once.
If you decide to still do it yourself, there are a couple of things you can do to drain less of your black ink cartridge. Firstly, you can print in draft quality. Not only does this save on ink but it also takes a lot less time to do the actual printing. Another thing you can do is change the colour of your text. Obviously changing the whole document is only going to move the problem to your colour cartridge, not help solve it, but you can alternate between black and colour. I often print in dark blue when my black ink has run out and I forget to buy a new cartridge. Personally, I don’t find much difference between reading blue and black on a page. It’s not going to make a massive difference to how much black ink you use, but it will help a bit.
My final suggestion is to pay someone else to do it for you. There are a whole host of online services where you can upload your document, they’ll print it and post it to you. Prices will, obviously, vary but it’s probably going to be cheaper than buying the ink. I had a look at a couple for my printing and they all worked out cheaper than buying the three ink cartridges I’d need to buy. They’re becoming less common these days as we move online, but there are still shops in the real world that you can go to who will print things for you. Again, their prices will depend on a lot of things but you won’t have to pay postage and a lot of them are cheaper than online. You also don’t have to contend with your printer jamming, the ink running out mid-print and having to run to the shops to pick up a new cartridge, running out of paper or your computer deciding that it doesn’t want to connect to your computer anymore and you have to reset the spool four of five times per print. All of those things have happened to me when printing small documents, I don’t want to have to do that for hundreds of pages, personally.
Printing your work is a very nice way to help the editing, but your temperamental or expensive printer shouldn’t stop you doing it. There are alternatives out there.
© 2020 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.