Multiple revisions

What is revision?

Revising is one of the most important stages in your writing. What is revision? Well, let’s begin by saying what it’s not. Revision is not proofreading, which is simply reading one set of proofs against another. Revision is also not line editing. Rather, revision is re-seeing your arguments. Carefully and critically examine your entire dissertation with dispassionate and disengaged eyes and mind. You have to be your own best dissertation editor. Hopefully, if you’ve thought out your ideas, revision won’t mean junking your entire work.

Get feedback and learn how to interpret it correctly.

While writing is, no doubt, a solitary endeavor, you shouldn’t write in isolation. Rather, you should be soliciting feedback as you write from peers, committee members, and other outside readers.  Get as much feedback as you possibly can. And then don’t try to please everybody but look to see if you can spot trends. At a writing workshop I attended a while ago, an instructor told an old joke: “If one person says you’re drunk, ignore them. If two people tell you you’re drunk, ignore them. If three people tell you you’re drunk, lie down.”  The message to writers is clear: don’t worry if one or two people don’t like or understand something. Readers are different, sometimes very different. You can’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try to. But if many readers tell you something is off, you might want to listen to the roar of the crowd.

Staying Modest and Calm and Cool

One of the hardest things to do is to take calls for heavy revision calmly and coolly. But you know what? This ability to be flexible and to realize that in writing you are not just (or even primarily) expressing yourself is what separates the amateur from the professional.   You are writing for an audience, and you need to care about what they think.  I’ve published my dissertation and quite a few articles/papers. One reason why is that I heavily revised my dissertation, as well as one published paper in response to a journal’s peer reviewer’s suggestions. No matter how much you write and publish, you’re going to have to revise.  In fact, you might even have to seek the help of a good dissertation editing service.

So, get used to it.

Rules for Revision:

1. Give yourself time between drafts to digest material from your readers. Stick your stuff in a drawer or the electronic equivalent thereof and let it sit for a few days before you tackle a new draft.

2. It often helps to have a revision plan in place before you tackle your rewrite.

3. Be bold and see revision as an opportunity, not as a chore.  Approach your revision as a chance to get it absolutely right or take a new look at your material or subject.

4. Remember that when you revise, you may be discovering that what you thought was a tangent or very small point is actually the meat of your new paper or chapter or article. Be creative and open to receiving inspiration for new ideas. Revision can often lead to wonders.

If you keep all of these points in mind, revision will be what it can and should be: a pleasure. But if you’re not sure, seek the assistance of the Staff at Edit911.