“I need a hero”

No, not the Bonnie Tyler type of hero.

My printer died.

This is not as bad as when your laptop dies or your smart phone beeps for the last time (I dread that day arriving!) but my tried and tested, lovingly trusted, tank-sized printer made the type of sound that stirs a horror writer to scribble into their note-book at 3am.

And, before anyone asks, I did try turning it off and then on again. I performed the full range of CPR. All to no avail 😦

The printer didn’t owe me anything. I’d bought it about ten years ago and it printed its way through all my creative writing courses with the OU and churned out several versions of my book. I grieved for a few moments and then bounced down stairs to check out possible replacements.

There is NO sentiment when you NEED to print stuff 🙂

I thought about how much I print when I’m writing and whether I need to use it so often. Mistakes leap from the page when I read them on paper. I don’t know why, but they do. It got me thinking: Do writers kill trees? Am I responsible for the decline of large forests?

Do we need to ask ourselves: “How often do I print my work?”

Printing a book on one side of paper takes a lot of blank sheets. I do shred and recycle old drafts of my stories but still, it’s a lot. How many drafts of a short story do I print. Probably too many.

With that in mind, I decided that any new printer I bought MUST utilise duplex printing. Using both sides of the paper immediately halves the pages I use.

Now, I must admit that I’d been thinking about upgrading for a while anyway. The old machine was the size of a TANK and dominated my desk like a humpback whale would your local swimming pool.

An actual tank

Imagine this perched on the edge of your desk.

It also bugged me that I had to wrestle with the cable every time I wanted to print a story or letter (remember letters?) Wireless would solve that problem.

So, when I thought “I need a Hero”, I settled on the Kodak Hero 5.1. All-in printer.

It does everything that I need and everything that I want. It takes up a LOT less space on my desk. Win, win all round 🙂

When I bought my Kindle last September, I intended using it to read my stories. Until this weekend I hadn’t sent any of my drafts there to read. It is SO EASY to do and looks pretty good even without doing any proper formatting.

You simply email your word document to your kindle email and voilà it appears on your device. I intend using this to save some printing in the future.

So THINK before you print and we can all find the inner HERO and save some trees.

Happy responsible printing!

About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
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28 Responses to “I need a hero”

  1. Julie says:

    I’ll be honest. My entire writing process, outside of sending to test readers, is paperless. I don’t print for editing, though I find ways to make the mistakes leap out too. The out loud round of editing (where I read it out loud and my cats sing along) works very well for that, but I think that as long as you’re changing format and how the words appear, it’ll work. Otherwise you’re brain just starts filling in what it knows goes there, rather than what is actually there.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Well done, Julie. That’s impressive.

      Even though I’ve bought the new printer I do intend printing less. I don’t know whether I can go paperless, but that’s the end goal.

      • Julie says:

        I manage by doing all of my edits either by marking up a pdf on my iPad, or straight into a new draft number on my Word document. That said, I recently bought myself a new printer because I wanted duplex and wireless as well. It hasn’t seen much love yet.

  2. Despite the fact there’s no room for sentiment when you’ve a deadline to hit, I do hope the funeral for a printer took place with due formality. You should have been dressed appropriately of course for such a solemn occasion in a suit made of paper with lines through the print or smudges, and ensure it takes place before the replacement arrives.After all, you wouldn’t want to seem ungrateful or too eager in greeting the lithe form that will in future perch on your desk.

  3. rtd14 says:

    Our printer is ready to enter a retirement home. I rarely print drafts, although I know what you mean about noticing mistakes on printed paper. I have downloaded a voice reader free online. It reads work back to me at one stage in my editing. I read through silenty, read outload myself, and then use the reader. That is a great idea to use the Kindle. If I have one someday, I’ll use it.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Rebecca. The Kindle has a voice reader though I’m not sure it works with .doc files. It does sound a bit weird hearing it read to you though I might try that one out.

  4. I may have known that about the kindle and email but thanks for the reminder. I should print on both sides but for long downloads I have to remind myself to number the pages.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I keep telling myself that at least I recycle the paper I use once I’ve finished with that draft. Still, something to try and cut down on. Save the planet one story at a time 🙂

  5. 4amWriter says:

    I hate wasting paper. I try to recycle my kids’ artwork (that they didn’t like and were going to throw away) or their schoolwork (I save a little bit of everything they do, but I can’t hold on to all of it). Then when I go to my writing group, I print out my obligatory 5 pages on the backs of these papers, thereby using it twice.

    Otherwise, most of my writing process is paperless. I don’t own a Kindle, but I just type everything on my laptop.

    But, being without a printer is scary, even if we don’t use it every day. Because when we do need it, it becomes an extremely important tool.

    • Pete Denton says:

      I have one of those all in one printers that is a scanner and photocopier as well and I like to keep copies of paperwork when I send things off, receipts etc so I wouldn’t want to ditch it completely. It did make me think about cutting down though. A printer gave its life for me to think more wisely about overuse of paper!

  6. EllaDee says:

    Great idea to use the Kindle & also to print duplex. Every little step is in the right direction. We all do what we can, and it saves not only trees but money. We try to balance out past & current paper/tree sins by using recycled paper products (from office printing) for the household 🙂

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, EllaDee. We have several large trees at the bottom of our garden and planted about five of them ourselves. I will class that as atoning for my paper sins 🙂

  7. Kindle…hmm note to self…definitely errors jump out on paper but double sided is the law!

    • Pete Denton says:

      Hahaha, duplex is the new King in town. Not the fastest printer in the world but fabulous quality. I need to resist the urge to print to check it’s still alright!

  8. robincoyle says:

    My condolences. I’ll send flowers and a sympathy card.

  9. Had a good laugh about this – the bit where you bounced off to buy another printer. Yes, quite…disposable world. I never print out anything I’ve written. It seems to set it in stone then and makes it harder to edit. Too much scrap paper! But I had no idea I could send a manuscript to my Kindle and check it out that way. This is a dumb question, but what is my Kindle email address? I presume I have to set one up??? Since I’m about to self-publish, it would be nice to see my book first, like a test-run.

    • Pete Denton says:

      When I set my kindle up my Amazon account told me what the email address would be. If you go into Manage Your Kindle and then select Manage Your Devices it will show you what your @Kindle email address is.

      I’m not sure a .doc file would be the same formatting, but you will get an idea.

  10. subtlekate says:

    I use to print a great deal but I too felt guilty about the forests that were going towards my print addiction and the consumables I was going through. That was a lot of ink.
    I’ve downloaded to kindle and surprised that the typos stood out. I highlighted them and went and fixed them, with out the paper. 🙂

    • Pete Denton says:


      All the talk has been about paper addiction and really the evil lurking in the electronics is TONER!

      I ordered some back-up toner from ebay and have had a NIGHTMARE trying to get it delivered. Royal Mail lost it for a while. This was PUNISHING me for ordering more evil toner.

      Less printing = More trees and less toner. Result 🙂

  11. I do tend to prefer paper for editing. But I’m only talking about short stories and articles, not big manuscripts. I like scribbling all over things with pen, much more satisfying than on screen! I don’t like paper wastage either though, and re-use where possible.

    • Pete Denton says:

      Thanks, Vanessa. Just realised that I hadn’t responded. Sorry for my oversight.

      Scribbling on your computer/laptop screen would get difficult to see through after a while. I like to red pen things. I don’t actually use a red pen, but the sentiment is there when going through the rubbish that I’ve written.

  12. I give 1-sided pages I don’t need to my kids. They color on the backs. Now my son is writing on them too.

  13. Kourtney Heintz says:

    I have a Brother Laser Jet that I bought a few years back. I LOVE IT! It doesn’t print double sided, but after I make paper edits and type them into my laptop, I flip the paper over and voila–a second ream of paper available. 🙂

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