My Revision Practices

Revision is a useful practice, but one of which I often make too much or too little use. When working on an assigned project, I usually take substantial time to sit and think without doing  much real work before embarking upon a frenzy of productivity when the deadline draws near. I then perform whatever revisions I have time for at the end. I am, if anything, worse when writing formal communications; I spend a lot of time deliberating over minor details and take days to produce a finished version where five minutes would have gotten me something almost as good. When writing for my own enjoyment I have few time limits, so I write as much I want, rewording it as I go, then take some time and look over it later to make corrections and improvements.

When writing something for a class, I tend to spend a lot of time pondering the specific and general aspects of the task (and also getting distracted and doing unrelated things). This step is followed by that of drafting up an outline that divides the assignment into smaller portions that I can develop individually. This helps to mitigate the apparent size of a composition project, which is important to me, since the main factor in my tendency to procrastinate is the magnitude of the undertaking. When I realize I am running low on time, I decide to finally begin work on the actual assignment, and produce a body of text that loosely follows the outline I laid out previously. If this is done and there is still time, I go over my work and make corrections, taking out redundant sections and clarifying where necessary.

I also spend some time writing short stories and material for RPGs. I don’t have a strict procedure for this kind of writing; when I have a good idea and feel the impulse to do something more than just jot it down, I spend whatever time I need creating the text, then make whatever changes are necessary to achieve satisfaction. I then take some time off and come back later to examine the writing with fresh eyes, which allows me to add helpful details and remove chunks of text that seemed necessary when I was writing it, but now appear redundant or confusing.

I take a different approach to personal or formal communications. If I am writing to someone I know well about a familiar subject, I will generally take a casual tone and write however I like with little care for minutiae. However, when sending letters or emails to people I don’t know that closely, or about more serious or formal topics, I tend to spend inordinate amounts of time overthinking fairly insignificant aspects of the dispatch, such as the best way to word a particular sentence, the appropriate titles with which to address the recipient, and so forth, which results in me spending far too much time and delaying responses that should have been immediate.

All things considered, I tend to perform too little revision in contexts that deserve more thought, and overuse it in those that merely require a quick response.

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