Ramblings on the value of physical text
My printer seems to exist in a near-constant state of not-quite working, thirsty for one of the four possible ink colours, despite only printing in black text. And as it's been [period of time] since last convincing it that yes, I do actually want to put something on paper, some nozzle or other has gunked up and can only be cleared by running a special cleaning routine which seems to use half of the new cartridge which I bought at great expense, with the result that I no longer have enough ink to print the thing I wanted to print in the first place.
Any writing longer than a page or 2 benefits from being read in different formats. The actual printed page is an important one. We found having the text formatted for the final book, report etc was another crucial step before that final “let’s print thousands of these” step. Nothing, absolutely nothing, however, will protect you from that inevitable typo on page 1 that only appears when you pluck the first copy from the box.
I think Warren Ellis once wrote about the "papernet", which is a concept that's stuck with me. The idea that certain types of communication are still done best on 'bits' of paper.
I draft in longhand, so the first transition to screen also serves as my first edit - I agree, it is a different feel. Then I print the draft and revise in longhand on that.
While having limited experience as a writer of fiction I have over forty years experience writing and editing large reports. I am of the opinion that physical drafts are essential to the reviewing and editing process. The physical copy gives you a much better understanding of the structure of a document, and it helps you know the geography of ideas in the text and where you can find elements relevant to the part you are currently reviewing/editing. My preferred approach to editing my colleagues drafts earned me the nickname of “The Red Pen” in two different employments.
While I have hated printers since the dawn of the computer age, whenever I finished a draft, I'd print it out, for the same reasons as you've said. As many times as I go over text on my laptop, I still find plenty of errors on the printed page. I only sometimes read passages out loud and that is a valuable exercise, but it's very time-consuming so I don't do it often. My current printer has died of old age, and I don't think I'll replace it. I haven't written anything for literally years - but I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year for the first time in 8 years! - so it's much cheaper and much less headache to take a draft to one of the printing/postal businesses and have them do it.
Sounder II??? Yes please!