The crucial part of essay writing: revision
Revisions are the essence of essay writing. Truly, it is in the revisions that you can make or break a winning argument. Revision actually means to “see again”. This means you see your paper again, from a critical and fresh perspective. Revision is a continually process of re-thinking your paper. This includes:
- Reconsidering the arguments you made
- Reviewing the evidence you presented
- Refining the purpose
- Reorganizing the presentation of your information
- Reviving any stale prose
Revisions are not where you look for spelling errors or typos. This is proofreading. Revisions are where you edit. It is where you polish your work.
Why does it matter?
Revisions matter because writing is a process where you discover continually. You may not produce your best work the first time you sit down to write. Revisions provide you with the opportunity to critically look at the work you did and make sure that what you wrote is actually worth saying. It gives you the chance to look at your work and determine if the paper says that you really wanted it to say. It also provides you with the chance to figure out if your reader will understand what you were trying to say.
When you finish writing your paper, walk away. Spend a few days, or at least a few hours, with your mind elsewhere, doing something else. Put your paper out of your mind so that you can return with a fresh, more honest perspective. When you return to your paper, remember that this is an important part of the process, in fact, it is critical. So don’t be lazy about it. Don’t casually revise; you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Make sure that you actually reflect on the work.
Think big. This, again, is not the time to focus on the little things or look for inappropriately places commas. This is the place where you truly focus on the big picture and make sure that your argument is sound and that the flow of your paper truly addresses your thesis.
Cover smaller chunks at a time. That means you should read over your paper once to see if what you wrote is truly worth saying and why. Then you should read over your paper a second time to see if your paper said exactly what you wanted it to say. After that, you should read over the paper a third time to make sure that the reader can understand what you are trying to say. Don’t attempt to knock out all three simultaneously.