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.