College: the land of sleep-deprived, confused adult-child hybrids who are always inches from either having it all together or being shuttled off campus in a fetal position and straight-jacket. To avoid driving ourselves to the very edge of sanity, solving one problem at a time might make things a tad easier, so how about we start by checking out that “revision” thing that’s going around? Some professors demand it. Others gently encourage it. Still others don’t even mention it, so is it really worth our precious time? Yours truly went on a mission to find out what all the hub-bub is and whether it’s an important practice by picking the brains of professors themselves.
First, let’s be clear what we mean by revision because as stated by IPFW’s Assistant Prof. of Secondary Education, Dr. Luke Rodesiler, “editing and revision are often conflated…” which leads us to some clarification:
Cohesion of ideas
As we look at this concept of revision, it’s useful to remember that writing is a process and ours are all different. Plus, the writing process doesn’t stop until we decide to, so revision is also a continuous process. Dr. Jennifer Stewart, University of Tennessee’s Director of Composition and former IPFW professor, urges that when we write it’s useful to get feedback throughout the entire process—beginning, middle, and end. For those of us who are new to the concept of writing as a process, it’s important to try different revision strategies; hence, Dr. Stewart requires her students to try multiple strategies until they find their niche.
Likewise, IPFW Assistant Prof. of English Dr. Andrew Kopec, encourages students to meet with instructors and tutors during the writing process because revising is so “complex”. Instead of sitting in our rooms reading papers over and over, make it a “social process” where reviewing happens with “…a previous version of yourself, a group of peers, and a projection of the academic audience in mind at the same time”. Dr. Rodesiler also reminds us that when we peer revise to bring specific concerns and questions to the reviewer in order to avoid “…sweating the edits needed to polish up a piece of writing!”
For those of us who thought we escaped the reach of these revision proponents, well…sorry. Even IPFW History Prof. Benton Gates has found that revision is a painful necessity and recognizes “…the immense value of the process”. Not to mention, Prof. Dan Reed from the IPFW Communications department goes so far as to describe a useful order:
- “Big Picture”
- Abstract qualities
- Supportive evidence
- Logical connections
- Clear conclusion
- Controlling idea throughout
- “Sentence Structure”
- Word order
Yep. It’s official—revision is a thing and, as it turns out, is actually a key element in writing. While it can be painful to part with original ideas, sometimes we have to rework our original creation to make room for something better. But don’t forget…The Writing Center is here to help!