Revision mindset hack: Use your e-reader

Today I have a tip for writers that is one part self-editing tool, one part mindset hack.

Many writers struggle with revision. This is my favorite self-editing tool when I’m feeling stuck in the rewriting process. It’s a simple way to inject some ease into the task and finish a draft for good.

This approach is ideal when you have a finished draft (of any length) of an essay, short story, or book chapter.

Most writers edit their work either on the computer or by hand after printing a file out. Both of these are effective strategies that have their place later in the editing process. But neither really shakes up how we feel about the task.

How would you like to change your relationship to your work and your vision of who you are as a writer?

Your work belongs here:

Shift your perspective from critic to reader

Self-edits are often done from the perspective of an editor or teacher, the sort of people whose job is to look for flaws and mistakes. Centering ourselves in this point of view puts us back in a deeply rooted mindset from childhood. It may bring up fear of failure, of the red pen slashing across our creations, of bad grades.

Instead, you are going to interact with your words purely as a reader. Reading is an activity that most writers love. It is linked with pleasure, excitement, relaxation—positive feelings. That’s the first mental shift: from fear to love.

Shift your editing vibe from one of fear or dread to one of love.

Visualize yourself as an author

I do this by sending the document of my draft to my e-reader.

This is such a small thing, but the experience of reading your words in the same format and in the same place that you read published books by successful authors moves you that much closer to imagining your work on the shelf of a bookstore or library. You’ll see your document crop us right next to books you’ve purchased, those written by authors who are published. Your e-reader library becomes a mini vision board.


Change your environment

Are you able to be objective enough to edit your own writing? It’s totally normal for writers to be enmeshed emotionally with their work. We have to care deeply to produce something that others will care to read.

But given that, how can we be good judges of our writing?

In addition to changing the medium you use to look at the work, try changing the physical space where you edit. Just as rereading in the medium where I’ve been writing (either on the computer or the notebook) doesn’t give me the distance I need, staying at my desk or even in the same room where I write keeps me in that mindset.

Now that your draft is on your e-reader, you can go anywhere! Take your editing somewhere you feel relaxed. Nurture yourself through the editing process by holing up in the coziest space in your home. Or go outdoors to get inspired–under a tree, by running water, surrounded by natural color.

A comfortable environment will help you switch gears mentally, without even trying!


How do I make all these devices talk to one another?

How to send your draft to your e-reader

Do you have a Kindle, a Kobo, a Nook? I use Kindle, and so do most of the writers I polled on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kindle offers a handy web extension for download. With that button, I can send any document (Word, PDF) from my computer to my Kindle account, where I can read it on any device that has the Kindle app.

This article explains how to send documents to Kindle and Kobo readers.

If you have a Nook, you can email documents to your device.

For other e-readers, you may need to do a bit of research. Ten years ago, I did manual transfers between devices with a cable. If you can’t find a digital shortcut, the good old methods take a little more time, but they still work!


Once your document is uploaded to your device, check out part II of this self-editing strategy: How to read your own work more effectively.


Joy Hoppenot

Joy Hoppenot

Editor & Creativity Coach

Joy is an American expat living in France, mother of two, and creative nonfiction writer. As an editor and creativity coach, she helps creative writers start their work, improve and finish their writing, and share their books with the world. Joy has a BA in English literature and 14 years of experience editing for publishing houses and independent writers.

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