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Walden University Writing Center

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Motivation to Revise

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You did it! You finished a draft of your document—huzzah! And now it’s time for the often-skipped, less desirable part of the writing process: revision. You might be wondering, ‘why should I take time to revise when I just spent all this time writing a draft in the first place?’ Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are some motivational arguments for and approaches to revision!

Why Revise?

Revision is an opportunity to take the great thing you wrote and make it better. And it can always get better! So, if you like your work to really shine, revision is for you!

Not feeling like you have time to revise? Or maybe you just feel like your draft is good enough already? Revision is still for you! Doing a quick re-read can still help ensure that you hit all the main points requested by your assignment prompt. It can also ensure that you remember to cite everything and avoid plagiarism. Plus, even small steps at revising can help you communicate more effectively and hone your writing skills!

How to Revise

It can be tough to open up that paper you just finished and say, ‘alright. Now let’s revise!;. It can feel discouraging. Or at least less than super exciting. But it doesn’t have to! Here are some revision strategies to help motivate you.

1)    Make a paper review appointment. By making a paper review appointment, you will have the opportunity to have someone else look over your work and provide feedback and next steps for revision! This takes some of the mental work and discouragement away from the revision process 😊.

2)    Try a reverse outline. Make bullet points of the main points in your document in a separate document or side comments. Look these over and compare them with your assignment—do you answer all the questions? Do you repeat yourself anywhere? These are good areas to revise if so!

3)   Take a break. Make sure to build in a day or two away from when your draft is due so that you can take a break from it and come back with fresh eyes. It can be really motivational to look at something fresh and remember all the great work you did, and things you want to fix or change will jump out at you more.

Still need more motivation?

If you’re still feeling the revision blues, check out some of these resources and other approaches to revision:

·       In particular, I recommend the Writing Goals module to help focus your revision ideas

·       Review some steps and tricks via our revising webpage

·       Watch our Strategies for Revising, Proofing, and Using Feedback webinar


What helps you revise? Let us know in the comments!

Claire Helakoski lives in Michigan with her family. Claire has worked at Walden for over 5 years and you can read many of her previous posts on the blog, as well as find her over at WriteCast as a cohost. 

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Consider Your Future Audience When Writing Gets Tough

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Have you ever come across a piece of writing, whether it was a novel or poem or even an academic paper, that impacted you in a memorable way? Maybe the author described something with words so beautiful it brought a literal smile to your face, or maybe they expressed an idea in a way that never occurred to you before and it changed the way you think about life. 
character reading with light coming from book
I have. It’s part of why I love reading all kinds of literature, and it’s part of why I love writing. It’s also part of why I love teaching writing. The written word can change people’s lives; it can even change the world.

At the same time, writing is hard. Really hard. It’s especially difficult when you’re working within a variety of constraints like keeping up a scholarly tone, sticking to the conventions of Standardized Academic English, needing to include a certain number of sources, and following APA style. Shouldering all of those expectations on top of the already exhausting tasks of coming up with ideas and thinking about how to best communicate them, it’s easy to lose sight of the potential that your writing has to make an impact.  
crumpled writing paper
Yet it’s that very potential that can serve as a motivation to push through that difficult writing process. It’s that very potential that can get you through the outlining, and the drafting, and getting feedback, and then making even more changes based on that feedback. Remembering that your writing matters is a great tool for manifesting motivation. 

Whenever I’m at an impasse with an essay or article that I’m working on, whether it’s because I have writer’s block or I’ve just spent so much time with the piece that I’m sick of it and want to give up, I  think about who is going to read it. I call to mind what I want them to feel as they make their way through my words and ideas. Sometimes I even picture an actual person in my mind’s eye: I imagine their head nodding along in agreement, or their eyes widening with inspiration, or a smile growing on their face as they enjoy what I’ve put so much effort into creating.
woman reading by water

It might feel silly or awkward at first, to dream of your writing having such an impact. Maybe it even feels a little arrogant to think that something you created could mean that much to someone else. And it’s certainly true that not every piece of writing we produce is going to be our best work. Nevertheless, I encourage you to give it a try next time you find yourself searching for the inspiration to keep going with a draft: Imagine your classmates seeing a topic from a new perspective because of what you brought to the table in a discussion post. Imagine your professor delighted by how clearly and logically you articulated your point. Imagine your written work actually changing the world. 
man reading in a field
There are a lot of methods out there for drumming up the motivation needed to get through a writing project, and each person has their own set of tools that works for them. For me, the prospect of simply being done with a piece, of being able to check it off a list, is not always enough to get me across the finish line. I believe that there can be a greater significance to my work than that, and I’ve found that I can use that belief to re-energize myself when I’m struggling. 

I hope this strategy resonates with some of you out there, too. I’m excited to hear what other tools you’ve found helpful in your quest for motivation, and I look forward to continuing to bear witness to your world-changing work! 

Grete Howland is a writing instructor who's been with the Walden Writing Center since 2019. Before joining the Writing Center, Grete taught English and creative writing to middle and high school students. When she's not working with words, Grete loves paddle boarding, running, wine tasting, and hanging out at home with her husband and dog.

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Are You Hitting the Pandemic Wall Too?

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When Kacy shared with me her vision for the blog in 2021, I was excited to hear about the focus on motivation. As I mentioned last September, productivity usually isn’t a problem for me. I wrote that September post earlier in the pandemic, and when I look back now, I realized I’m in an entirely different headspace now.

As we head into the one-year anniversary of COVID lockdowns, I’ve hit what I’ve heard others refer to as the pandemic wall. The term “the pandemic wall” comes out of a Twitter thread from NPR host Tanzina Vega (she talks about “pandemic burnout”), and it refers to “the particular and sudden feeling of spiritual and emotional exhaustion with life during covid times” (Judkis, para. 7 ).

brick wall

I find myself thinking about the pandemic wall a lot lately, as my friends, family, and I are finding everyday tasks--both at work and at home--harder and harder to complete. My motivation seems to have vanished.

In reflecting on my waning motivation, I realized that the tools that I had relied on in the past to help fuel my motivation just weren’t available to me anymore. Last fall, I talked about how finding the right environment can help my motivation. In the past, when I was feeling restless and unproductive, I would often find a cozy coffee shop where I could get some writing or work done. Finding a different space to center myself was what got me through my master’s degree, and it’s been something I’ve relied on during my 10+ years as a remote worker.

book, notebook, coffee, pen

Of course, in this time of COVID, going to a coffee shop just isn’t an option; it’s not realistic or safe, and so opportunities for finding a new environment to help with my motivation are limited. I suppose I could try moving from my home office to my kitchen, but of course I also don’t leave my house during my down time, so I’m pretty sick of my kitchen right now too. That strategy that had worked well isn't available to me right now, but I also realized I’ve unknowingly found a few workarounds.

Recently, I’ve started using an app called Tomato Timer. The app uses the Pomodoro technique of alternating between focused work sessions and frequent breaks (“pomodoro” is Italian for tomato). I find it incredibly helpful and satisfying to watch the app count down the time until my next break, and I often find myself trying to work a bit faster to get a project done before the timer ends. The Pomodoro approach helps me push distractions to the side, since I’ll have a break soon in which I can easily get more coffee, check Twitter, get more coffee, walk around a bit, and get more coffee.

three tomatoes

The other strategy I’ve started using is a daily meditation habit using the app Headspace. I’ve always wanted to be more mindful, and with my inability to focus recently, I thought now might be the time to start building my meditation practice. I’ve incorporated Headspace into my nightly routine before I go to bed, and I’ve started using short 5-minute meditations during my Pomodoro breaks. It’s been a helpful way to reset my focus, and while I’m still a novice, I’m going to continue to build my meditation practice.

person sitting watching sunset

I in no way want to imply that the Tomato Timer and Headspace apps are solutions for the impact of the global pandemic we are still experiencing: we can’t time manage or meditate our way out of a global pandemic. And, honestly, we should all be clear with ourselves that our productivity probably won’t be the same as our pre-pandemic levels. It’s okay to feel unfocused and to struggle with motivation—that struggle is not a personal failing on your part; it’s a result of the world we live in right now and is not your fault.

It has been helpful for me, however, to reflect on the ways I’ve replaced my old strategies for finding motivation with new ones. Maybe that same reflection can be helpful for you too. If you’ve felt unfocused and unmotivated recently, consider where you’ve found motivation in the past. Is there a new way you can replicate that strategy? What resources or tools do you have at your disposal, however small they might seem? What support system can you lean into? How might technology be a tool?

Share your thoughts in comments to this post, and good luck out there, everyone. We will eventually be able to visit our local coffee shop without worry.

Beth Nastachowski has been with the Writing Center since 2010, and she currently manages the center’s webinars, modules, and videos. She spends her time running after her son, husband, two cats, and dog in St. Paul, MN. 

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Motivation: My theme for the Walden Writing Center Blog and life in general in 2021

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2021 Starting Line on Track
2020 was...a year. One way to illustrate the kind of year it was: I'm introducing myself and the yearly blog theme for 2021 in March. 

My name is Kacy Walz and I've been a Writing Instructor at Walden University since the end of 2016. I've written a few posts for the blog in the past and, this year, I'm excited to take the reigns. I'm also excited to share the theme of 2021's upcoming posts: motivation.

Chalkboard: "can't" crossed out, replaced with "can"
I'm going to be honest with you. I have ulterior motives (pun completely intended) for selecting this theme. I'm a doctoral candidate currently working on my dissertation. And I've been finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to sit down and write lately.

Something that never fails to inspire me is working with Walden students and witnessing the incredible things they do in their scholarship and day-to-day lives. I'm so grateful for that and I believe that tapping into my work at Walden will help get me to the proofreading stage of writing.

Scrabble letters spelling "Do Not Give Up"
Along with our amazing students Walden also has some excellent and inspirational staff members, and I'm so lucky to call them colleagues. I know their writing will help me develop and maintain the motivation I need to finish and I hope you'll also find motivation as we progress through this year and beyond.
Offered fist
So what do you say, 2021? Let's do it. 

Kacy Walz
 is a writing instructor from St. Louis, MO. She is currently working on a PhD in Literature from the University of Missouri. Along with her work on the blog, Kacy also cohosts the Walden Writing Center podcast. She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.Send me new posts by e-mail! button 
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March Live Webinars

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It seems like each month is somehow both flying by (is it really already March??) and also taking forever. But a new month also means a new webinar schedule! We'd love to see you at a live webinar, but if the times don't work for you, you can always check out the recording in our archive.

This month we are offering the following live webinars:

Date: Thursday March 18th
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. ET
Audience: Doctoral Students

In this webinar, participants will learn from Writing Center Form and Style editors about the use of APA in doctoral capstones: Expectations, common errors, and resources for understanding more complex APA rules.

APA Reference List Workshop Part 1: Top Overall Formatting Errors and How to Fix Them
Date: Tuesday March 30th
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. ET
Audience: All Students

In this workshop-style session, students will learn the purpose of an APA Style reference list, how to identify and fix common reference list formatting errors, and resources for further help.

Optional: To fully participate, students should bring a reference list of their own to work on. The list can be one for a current or past assignment, and it will not be shared.

Click on the webinar titles to register for the live sessions. Hope to see you there!

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