On Revision

When writing, revision can be both the most gratifying aspect of the process, and the same time, the most paralyzing. On the one hand, you have a chance to polish off your work, to shape it into the magnum opus you imagined one day while daydreaming on the john. It’s undeniably important. But, in my experience, if you entertain the need to revise while writing, you won’t get anywhere. So first, a little on the virtues of revision.

A former professor once told me that when you step back from a piece and return a while later, you effectively have a new set of eyes on your work. You can chalk it up to temperament (maybe you skipped breakfast the day you started writing, or found a parking ticket on your windowshield). Or it may be a matter of perspective; at the risk of sounding like a popcorn psychologist, we grow every day, and the “you” of tomorrow might be more capable of writing that piece than the “you” of today.

But thorough revision should really be saved for finished drafts. If you micromanage sentences as you compose them, you won’t produce a whole lot, and worse, you’ll establish a standard that newly formed sentences struggle to meet. If you write copiously, and fearlessly, you’ll have plenty of material to hone into greatness later on. Speaking from my own experience, so many of my older stories were stopped dead in their tracks because I could not keep my impulse to revise in check. Now, even if I hate my writing at first, at least I have something to show for it!

– David Antony Pulido

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