As has been mentioned on our blog, writing is a process. It is not a clinical process where a writer sits down, writes everything out perfectly the first time, and is done. Novel finished with a movie deal on the way, and it is not even time for second breakfast. This is probably the strangest fiction about writing that I grew up with. While I spent years hearing about the writing process or that writing is a process, I spend quite a long time not understanding what that meant and just how important and useful a skill revision is.
How often have you written something for a class or a deadline and never looked at it again? This piece that you spent anywhere from an hour to a week working on disappears into your folder or bag or maybe in the trash or recycle bin. How will it ever get published or turn into that great piece you did if it is hidden away? It can’t and won’t. By taking the work you already put so much effort into and working with it further, you can polish your piece and use it for something more than that one grade in that one class.
Well, what if I don’t want to be published? Why would I want to revise my pieces? For one, you can raise your grade. By starting early enough that you have time to revise and rework your pieces, you can raise a C to an A. You can also write and produce work that you are proud of being associated with. You might even in the course of further research or exploring different avenues from your original ideas find something you find fascinating and want to work with outside of this one assignment or grade.
Even if none of that appeals to you, you can better your chances of getting other things you would like by actively revising your work: a job, an internship, or even be accepted at a University of your choice. Being willing and in the practice of revising can help you rework your personal statement or application, and that revision could be just what you need to succeed and get what you want.
Hopefully, you are at least considering trying revision out, so how do you revise? Luckily, Zack just wrote a post about drafting, Nathan has written on the importance of starting early, and Jackson has provided some tips on how to get started. Along with these posts, I think it is also useful to acknowledge different types of revision. Proofreading, for example, is more focused toward editing surface level errors: grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and other minor errors that have caught many of us off guard over the years and often ended in a lowered grade or rejection letter.
These are important to correct and work at, but another type of revision would be rewriting. Many times when I hear about rewriting, there is this idea where you can alter some portion of your piece and not touch the rest. You may not have to change every piece of your work, but it is important to realize that, if you alter a paragraph or a section, you may have made other parts of your piece not work. If you change a claim in one paragraph, it could affect all of your argument or the following paragraphs. Just make sure that you reread through the entirety of your work as you morph and play with your content to create a coherent piece that may just be your polished masterpiece.