Revision

I think my writing process is different than a lot of people’s: I tend to have a short attention span, so I’ll typically start writing something, get tired of it, and then come back to it later. The thing is, every time I do this I usually have to re-read and revise it, which takes a while (I just caught myself doing this right now). Also this strategy allows for a lot of procrastination: I’ll start a bunch of things but then put off finishing them. If I have enough time, this usually means that the final product is polished, but if I don’t because there’s a deadline and I’ve taken too many breaks, I’ll often have to rush the ending to finish on time.

My compulsion with revision probably stems from the fact that I hate releasing something publicly that may have mistakes in it. I want it to be my best work. But as I’ve gone through school, and especially college, I’ve realized that this is definitely a balancing act – at some point you just need to be done and move on. I think I’ve gotten better at this, and honestly some of my most fluid writing is stuff that I’ve written quickly with few breaks and less full revisions. At the same time I think there’s also positives to constantly revising as you write. It obviously curbs grammar and diction mistakes, but more importantly it helps bigger ideas stay connected and on topic. Plus, when I do go to actually give someone a draft, there is usually less work to be done on the reviser’s end.

This semester, being busier and having more responsibilities than I ever have before, I’ve really been faced with how to revise when time is a limiting factor. I think the most important strategy I’ve learned takes place before the revision process even starts: planning. If you can map out the general ideas that you want to present, whether on paper or just mentally, the revision work will be a lot lighter and more time can be spent generating new content. Revision will always be important, especially as a way for other’s to share their ideas about your work, but it can be less of a burden and more effective if you know exactly what you’re trying to communicate.

3 thoughts to “Revision”

  1. I agree that revision is both about working slowly and diligently, but also about fluidity. I am a perfectionist, and tend to read my work over time and time again. However, when I get in the zone and crank out my thoughts, it seems as though I am a more efficient writer.

    There are positives and negatives to these specific types of revision. Sometimes it is good to write in a word-for-word manner, and to make sure each thought and each sentence is perfectly articulated. On the other hand, sometimes it is better to get your thoughts down on paper all at once, and come back to your work to perfect it later on.

    It is great that you are learning to plan out your life and responsibilities before diving into it/them. Regardless of how you choose to write and revise your work, I agree that it is most important to plan before anything. Planning will ultimately help in the revision process, and will make it easier when it comes to organization.

  2. I think this is a really good post, and I agree a lot with what you’re saying.

    First off, my attention span is also minimal, so I totally get where you’re coming from with the “start writing something, get tired of it, and come back to it later” game. With almost every paper I write, I have a separate document that I title the paper’s “Notes”. Really, that document is just a compilation of all of the paragraphs I wrote for the paper but couldn’t maneuver a way to fit into the end product. Usually that means I write two or three times as much prose as I actually put into my final piece.

    That leads me to why I like this post: your emphasis on planning. I think planning out an essay is a skill that I’ve totally lost as I’ve begun to write more creatively. Even though I’ll sometimes generate good ideas four or five pages into my “Notes” page, I think having a plan makes the essay itself a lot less time consuming to create and a lot easier to follow for its reader. This is something I really want to work on in future essays – not to mention the Blue Book exams I have coming up next week.

  3. As we’ve talked about already in our group earlier this year, our writing/revising styles are complete opposites. While you like being able to go back to things multiple times as you go, I prefer to just sit and pound out a paper and then look back at it later. I completely identify with your thoughts about the importance of revision, though. It’s all about putting your best work out there. So if the best way for you to produce top quality writing is to come back to it multiple times, more power to you – it’s very clearly working out!

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