Revising Attitudes

s.chowdhury on Oct 21st 2014

What do you think of when you imagine “revising” your writing?

When I think about revising my writing I imagine cutting out and rewriting sentences, reorganizing paragraphs, sometimes rewriting my thesis, and adding more detail. I use revision to provide more clarity to my writing as well as improve the quality of it. I’ve never really seen revising as just adding punctuation, or fixing my spelling errors; revising is more meaningful than that. Papers/articles/stories/any writing achieves their purpose better with the proper revisions.

Write about a time you revised something you wrote: what was your process like and what did you gain (if anything) from the process?

When applying to Northeastern University, I had to write an essay on why I was interested in journalism. The final version of that essay is drastically different than the first draft. There were parts of my first draft that I did like but after having one of my teachers read it was evident that I hadn’t really answered the question – I had written all about what journalism is but not about how any of that sparked my interest or my goals as a journalist. In my second draft I expanded more on these questions focusing specifically on me and journalism rather than the field of journalism at large – but now it exceeded the word limit by hundreds of words. I sat up with my one of my fellow editors from the newspaper helping me edit my essay through Google Drive. I revised, he commented; words were deleted, words were added – it was the most frustrating and most difficult revision I’ve ever had to do. I liked everything I wrote and I hated everything I wrote. Finally after countless hours, I had cut down the essay to meet the max word count. However, all the revisions I had made in that process did in fact make the essay better. The final product conveyed accurately why I was interested in journalism. This experience taught me how to more concisely and accurately express my thoughts.

What’s the difference between revising, editing, and proofreading?

Revising is when you make the most drastic changes because this it the part of the writing process that you work with the good things, either work on the bad things or just throw them out completely. Editing and proofreading is when you concentrate more on grammar and the mechanics of the writing.

What’s your response to Brock Dethier’s piece on revision?

I think an area that Dethier did really well in, was explaining how revision is all around us. I especially loved his music reference. I’ve never really consciously thought about how covers of songs are revisions to the original song, but they are, and I think realizing that really makes you aware of how much presence revision has, that even with works deemed great, revision occurs. His own example of revising his poem was great in showing how professionals go through the process too. I loved that he said that he isn’t addressing just novice writers, but all writers because everyone revises, and everyone has a resistance to revision initially.


Describe your response to the resistances to revision he discusses on pages 2 and 3, especially specific ones you may agree with and why you agree with them.

I think the resistance to revision that Deither discusses are real for everyone. There are two however that I especially agree with. “Revision is a sign of failure, and criticism a personal affront” – I think holds the most true and is the most common reason people resist to revision. I know, that I personally have a difficult time accepting criticism sometimes, but I ultimately come to realize that it is for my benefit. The revisions, the suggestions, the criticisms are all coming from a positive place and are aimed to help me, not to humiliate me. “Revisions make things worse” – this is another one I agree with. Oftentimes I do find myself hesitant to revise because I feel that the original is good already and I don’t know if the revisions will make it better.

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