Challenge 1: What is the most productive way to revise?

In my English 325 course last semester, I found myself thoughtfully considering the revision process, more so than I had ever done before. What does it mean to revise? How do you know when a work of writing is good, and revised enough? When is the right time to revise? I especially grappled with the last question, given that I was blessed to be among students who had a wealth of experience in workshops, and would be an integral part of the revision process. It became clear early on in the term that a handful of my peers were equipped to give really good advice during workshops. The helpfulness of their insight wasn’t limited to the workshop writer, however–I found that I learned something new with each paper, tips and tricks that I wanted to try in my own work.

With each day of helpful workshop insight, there would be one day less to write, revise, and submit my final essay. This brings me back to the question of “when,” specifically when it would be useful to stop (or pause) the writing process, and begin to think big picture.

Do I write my paper and revise it upon completion, having the entirety of our class discussion at my disposal? Or do I revise as I go, knowing that there may be more insight to come?

I tried out both techniques across Papers 2 and 3 (Paper 1 had already come and gone, with some pretty average revision on my part, honestly). I found that my revision process for Paper 3, that is, revising throughout workshops, as I continued to writer, resulted in a piece of work in which I was most confident. Having said that, “continuous revision” didn’t turn out to be what I initially expected. Instead of looking at my piece periodically and making distinct, lasting changes, I began to read over my paper with the insight from a day’s workshop session fresh in my mind, though no absolute plans to make changes to my paper’s content or overall structure. Instead, I merely considered my paper at the point that it was at, and tried to work through whether any workshop insight may serve my writing. These check-ins didn’t take long, but it made the revision process overall more organic and meaningful.

With that anecdote, I arrive at this semester’s Capstone project, and the production plan I will be submitting on Wednesday. With the knowledge that this project will be different than other writing I have had before, I would like to consider a revision process similar to the one I used near the end of English 325. After all, it seems only fitting that my attempts to change, refresh, and adapt my revision process for each and every essay continue into my last project!

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