Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this” (page 28). 


Revising is the part of the writing process that, to most, comes to mind last, yet it is the most crucial [part]. “I might revise a page twenty times.” Roald Dahl, the popular children’s writer, states, “By the time I’m nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least 150 times…Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this” (page 28). The word good modifies the following word writing and helps reveal a sizable amount of information about the term revision. The quote itself refers to revision as the essence of all good writing. Revision is the backbone of any and all successful works of writing. Revision is the idea of re-examining and altering a piece of writing, allowing for said piece to read more fluently and overall, for a stronger final product to be produced. Writing in a sense, is the precursor to revision. Once a writing piece is fully revised, it is then, and only then, that it can be considered finished (although some may argue a piece of writing can never be finished).

The most important part of the writing process is revision. We are our best critics and revision allows us to be just that; the most important part of revision itself, is the opportunity to be able to go back and improve on our past mistakes. Again, revision is the backbone of the writing process. Without it, a piece of writing can never manage to get close to achieving its ideal state… or to a point where the writer has given his/her full effort. Revision requires a great deal of effort and attention to detail. The writer must critique his/her own piece of writing until there is practically nothing left to critique. Some writers, like Dahl, revise their writing multiple times, resulting in the trashing of dozens of pages in order to achieve the “perfect writing piece”. When a writer criticizes his/her writing and holds it to a degree higher than his/her readers do, that writer has a much greater chance at writing an excellent piece compared to one who does not put in as much effort into the revising process.

“The writer must learn to read critically but constructively, to cut what is bad, to reveal what is good. Eleanor Estes, the children’s book author, explains: “The writer must survey his work critically, coolly, as though he were a stranger to it. He must be willing to prune, expertly and hardheart-edly” (page 28). One who is overly critical of his/her own work will find much success in the writing sphere and excel. However, it is possible to critique “too much” and ruin a wonderful piece of writing. When a writer begins to go down the path of revision, it is important not to get too carried away. Only critique what does not match the vision you have for your writing. One’s piece of writing is at it’s best when it has been treated properly and revised with care.

3 thoughts on “Revision

  1. I mean I can put my cards on the table here, I’m down with this. I do think revision is the backbone of good writing, as you say. That said, not all situations are conducive for revision. Some types of writing don’t need any revision. For instance, one of my old office jobs involved lots of duplicating of materials with slightly different language but certain language *had* to be there for procedural/policy/legal reasons. So revision would actually *hinder* what would be constituted as “good” writing in that situation since a lot of what I had to do was copy/paste with slight changes and moving things around organizationally. In a broad sense, this was “bad” revision but “good” writing for the situation.

    At end you say it is possible to “critique too much”. How do you know when you are doing that? Have you ever done that? What are ways to prevent that? I’m tempted to say that this is a better problem to have than the problem of just not revising at all–so don’t worry about this! But, it is something that can be a problem. Something to think about, don’t feel a need to respond if you don’t want.

  2. I agree with all you state about how revision is key for all writers and it is an important part of the writing process. Although this is true, sometimes revision is not needed. In your response you said, “a piece of writing can never manage to get close to achieving its ideal state.” I would maybe state this differently. Revision is important and one should always reread their writing even if you think its perfect. However, not all work needs revision to be at its best.

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