Introduction to Revising

Evaluate revision activitiesGraphic titled Revise. Bullet list: re-see, align structure, align thesis. All is in an orange circle bordered by gray arrows.

To revisit our metaphor of the writing process as a journey, turning to the act of revision means a huge accomplishment: we’ve arrived at our destination! A draft is complete, and we have a solid understanding of¬†our subject matter. The act of revision will allow us to explore what’s possible now that we’ve arrived–how we can shape our own adventure in this location.

A powerful visualization of drafting and editing can be found this video, which captures a day in a life of a painter. Painting, like writing, is a hugely creative act, and one that undergoes many drafts. You’ll see this artist rough out big ideas, and then wipe them out. These false starts are not uncommon, but note how he keeps going after it. After a series of dramatic changes to the canvas in the first few minutes, the final couple of minutes focus the changes to a smaller and smaller scale: it becomes a process of refinement towards the end.

(This video has no voice-over but does use the song “Over and Over” by Hot Chip as a soundtrack.)

By this stage in your writing process, you likely won’t be wiping your canvas clean and starting from scratch. Instead, it’s time to clarify, refine, and reorganize to make sure the big picture is exactly what you want it to be.

What You Will Learn To Do

  • evaluate the process of seeking input on writing from others
  • evaluate strategies for incorporating personal and external editorial comments
  • evaluate methods for re-seeing a piece of writing
  • evaluate higher order concerns for revision