Save time by resolving substantive rhetorical questions before editorial ones. View revision as a creative, questioning process.
When professional writers are asked to describe their writing process, many emphasize the importance of revision. For many writers, writing is revision. We know from countless studies of writers at work that professional writers may revise a document twenty, thirty, even fifty times before submitting it for publication. Many writers rely on revision to generate their most creative ideas, to find the best form for a document.
Revision involves making global changes—that is, substantive changes in the content and organization of a document. Rather than viewing revision as a form of punishment or merely as an act of polishing ideas, good writers consider revision to be an opportunity to develop their thinking–as an opportunity to be creative, to re-envision, to find the jewels within all the tangled, half-formed sentences.
“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what one is saying.” -John Updike
Revision involves making global changes—that is, substantive changes in the content and organization of a document. Revision is not a simple matter of correcting the spelling of a few words. Revision can be a passionate, chaotic, and dynamic activity that is driven as much by feeling as by intellect. Writers measure what they have written against their intellect and an internal feeling, a felt sense, about how the ideas should be formed. Instead of holding on to the old, they risk playing with new possibilities, new forms, and new ideas.
Unlike editing, which can be presented as a series of steps that one can follow to improve each sentence and passage, revising cannot be reduced to a set of guidelines that apply across genres. Until some kids in a garage somewhere develop some whiz-bang heretofore impossible-to-imagine tool that revises documents, we need to rely on our reflective and critical abilities. We can also exchange drafts with others, seeking and giving feedback. To develop and refine their thinking, writers reshuffle their pages and reread their work with the hopes of finding flawed reasoning, underdeveloped thinking, and better word choices. They may discard the first five pages of a six-page essay.