So You Want to Revise? -->

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So You Want to Revise?

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As we’ve discussed in many of our resources and blog posts, revision is an important part of the writing process for all writers. You may have already decided to incorporate revision into your work—great! But even after deciding to revise, you may be wondering, where do I start? Today, I’ll go over some techniques to help you answer this question.

So you want to revise?

First, I suggest finding some patterns in your writing. You might have help doing this if you have feedback from a faculty member or Writing Center instructor, or, you may feel confident in identifying some patterns on your own. Either way, step one to any revision process is re-read your draft

After you’ve read back through your work, reflect and write down some areas you want to work on. Think of these as larger patterns in your writing first, narrowing down to more minute details. If you have feedback from the Writing Center or your faculty, you can use this as a guideline as well. I recommend identifying larger patterns and making a list for yourself, which can even have sub-categories depending on how detailed you want to be.

Example List of Revision Items
1.) Organization
a.) Thesis
b.) MEAL Plan

2.) Evidence incorporation
a.) APA
b.) Citation frequency

3.) Reference formatting

Once you have your list, I suggest going back through your current draft again one item at a time. In my example above, then, I would read through my draft and think about organization. I could check all my paragraphs for the MEAL Plan and make sure they relate back to my thesis. After I’ve finished working on the MEAL Plan and my thesis, then I can read through again and focus on evidence incorporation and making that smoother. Then, I can read through to be sure I’m citing often enough, then review my references.

This may sound a bit tedious, but it will get easier as you go, I promise! The benefit of having a list like this is that you can keep it in mind (and on record) as you write new drafts as well—that way you can start incorporating small changes and revisions as you write. From paper to paper, you may find that your focus and list of revision topics changes and shifts, and that’s fine too! You can use a revision journal to assist you as well. This process can be as complex or broad as works for you—but I suggest starting out at a broader scope so that you know more specifically what patterns are showing up in your writing. And, remember, the Writing Center is here to support you with our feedback as well as part of this process.

Review of today’s techniques
1.) Re-read your draft/feedback
2.) Make a list of broad to narrow topics to address
3.) Go through your draft and make changes one topic at a time
4.) Keep the list for future reference

Using these techniques and keeping yourself organized will help empower you as you work towards revision! You might also like our two WriteCast episodes that go more into detail about using this method. How are these revision strategies working for you? Let us know if you have any particular successes or other revision tricks!

Claire Helakoski author photo

Claire Helakoski is a writing instructor at the Walden Writing Center. Claire also co-hosts WriteCast, the Writing Center's podcast. Through these multi-modal avenues, Claire delivers innovative and inspiring writing instruction to Walden students around the world.

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