Revision. The part of the writing process that is arguably the most divisive. Most people stand on one side or the other, either hating to revise or absolutely loving the process. I fall on the side of loving to revise my work. Of course I wasn’t always standing on this side of the line.
As a typical high school student, I hated those days when you did the peer reviews in class. I thought my writing was already really good and that I couldn’t possibly need to revise. Especially revisions given by someone who didn’t really know my writing or what my paper was about. I thought they couldn’t possibly know what I had in mind so they had no reason to be looking at my paper and ways to improve. Now I see that these people are in fact the exact people that are perfect to suggest reviews. They were on the outside of my paper and therefore could see where I had holes or blurred ideas in my paper.
It took one specific paper to change my mind. I was writing a final and I hated it. I had written the entire paper but it just felt like a bad experience. I didn’t think it made sense or fulfilled the requirements of the assignment. So I went to the professor and asked him to read over it and offer suggestions. I needed to do something to fix this paper and I figured he would have the best ideas about it. He ended up telling me it was actually a really good paper that just had a few organization problems as well as some minor changes needed to make it clear. I listened intently to his suggestions and went to work in the library to fix what I thought was a horrible paper. After spending hours cutting, pasting, reorganizing, and rewording nearly the entire paper I finally had something that I thought was a satisfactory paper. And my professor agreed, giving me an A.
Through this single assignment, I learned that it is “worth spending time to improve something, even something already very good” (Acts of Revision, Dethier, pg. 12). In Brock Dethier’s chapter of Acts of Revision he discusses this need for writers and students to learn that revision is a process meant to improve not just needlessly change a piece of writing. Dethier talks of how it is important to get input from others because they will have fresh eyes and be able to see things that you as the creator will not. He also gives some tips on how to calmly accept this criticism and use it to create an even better final product. These tips are necessary because thinking that the person giving comments is stupid will only lead to a mocking acceptance of the advice, leading to no real acceptance or change to the paper.