Hopelessly Attached

– “They must detach themselves from their own pages so that they can apply both their caring and their craft to their own work. Such detachment is not easy.” (Page 27)

Detachment is impossible. There is no way for one to completely detach themselves from their work, yet it is what we ask of ourselves when we strive to improve our skills in a given field. We can’t just forget about all the time and effort we put into our work when we seek to improve our craft, and this is why detachment is so hard. I believe that detachment is never completely attainable, but that we can work to try to get as close to that point as possible. When we detach our egos from the work we create, we are able to steer our work in a direction that is closer to what we envision it to be; this is why we revise.

Writing is a form of expression in its most early state. When we have something to share, or we are passionate about something, we can use words to express that. The words that we use are an initial attempt at teaching someone something, telling a story, or evoking an emotion. Often times, the words we use in our first attempt of writing do not achieve the desired goal of transmitting an idea from the mind of the writer to the mind of the reader. For the writer, this holy grail of transmission can only be achieved through the thorough act of revision.

Revision is not glamorous; it takes lots of hard work. It requires the writer to read their own work as if it was not their own. They must become overly critical of their work. In fact, they should strive to be more critical than anyone else when it comes to their writing. If a writer is more critical of their work than everyone else, this means they are progressing in their skills of detachment and criticism. Revision is also detailed; it requires one to re-read every page, every line, even down to a single word to see what could be improved upon. The more detailed one is with their revisions, the better the end result will be.

Revision is the part of writing that is noticed the least. The initial writing is what gets all of the credit since, after all, it’s the only reason a writer could even revise their work in the first place. The actual majority of a writer’s work is involved in perfecting their initial writing. Even though 90 percent of a writer’s work is involved in revising, the 10 percent of the work – which is the initial writing – is what takes the cake. This gets down to the root of why the average reader’s expectation of writing is so inaccurate: as readers, we have been deceived into believing that the majority of a writer’s work is involved in writing because we only see the final product. The result of this is that when a reader, such as a student, must write an essay or a story, they don’t understand the full process that a true writer must go through to finish a piece of work.

Revision is the most important part of the writing process. It’s what allows someone to transmit their ideas into the mind of another person in a more effective manner. It can turn a good piece of writing into an outstanding one. By detaching yourself from your work and being your own worst critic, you can begin to improve your revision skills. But this is something that must be approached with caution. Your criticism and judgment could lead to your own demise. When a writer grows to be too critical, they can find themselves never finishing and eventually giving up on what, at one point, had given them so much inspiration and joy. “Writers must learn to be their own best enemy,” but don’t mistake your best enemy for your worst enemy. The best writer is the one who applies criticism to their work with care so that they improve their writing, but also don’t lose their love for it.


Rewriting. “Most readers underestimate the amount of rewriting it usually takes to produce  spontaneous reading.” (page 28)


Writing on its own is the action of composing text and literature, on the other side, revision is reading your own text – usually with the intention of modifying it.  Revision cannot be compared to writing, because revision is a fundamental step of proper writing. It is when the writer finishes their first draft (“Draft Zero”), the foundation of their work, and criticizes their own text from the point of view of the audience, with the job to; better understand the image perceived by the reader, confirm that they are delivering the information the reader needs and desires, as well as assuring that their form and tone are correct for the intended audience. In the text, Murray makes constant use of the verbs “writing”, but even more so, “rewriting” by which he emphasizes on the importance of revision and subsequent amending and improvement of a piece of writing until it is of the liking – or at least the acceptance – of the very own writer, seeing their own work from a 3rd perspective; “the last act of the writing must be to become one’s own reader”. In the act of revision, it is important for the writer to keep an open mind to criticism, be this their own or from other individuals (family, peers, friends, etc). When rewriting their work, the author must select critic commentaries and thoughts, filtering the constructive content that they find the most useful for their writing piece. Revision, in other words, is doing critical analysis and critical reading of their own work – this can be especially challenging for a writer as when they read their own text they already know their goal and the tone intended. When doing this critical analysis, which further connotes rewriting, it is important for the author to remember to maintain the original purpose of the text. The objective in the process of rewriting is not to change the spirit of the writing piece, or what this one intends, but to improve its vehicle, which is how it is delivered to the audience. 

Writing is like baking, revision is going over the recipe to make sure you did things correctly while judging the taste of the dough and its consistency – depending on what you want to achieve, rewriting is adding a little more of this and that depending on the baker’s intuition of the mixture. A great detriment for writing apprentices is that they only get to appreciate the final result, they get to taste the cake but don’t get to see the recipe nor they have an idea of the writer’s struggle to achieve the end product. Most writing students assume that professional writers have no need to revise their work, that writing is just a second nature of theirs and requires little to no effort do to constant practice – while this is not one hundred percent erroneous it’s certainly very far from the truth. Being a good writer on its very definition it’s a vicious cycle of drafts, revision, and rewriting; all of it in an effort towards perfection, for which a good writer most naturally be a perfectionist, never fully satisfied with their work, even after it has been submitted and published.