I just finished one of the craziest semesters of my college career so far. I didn’t take a single exam, and all of my classes were writing intensive. I even had to write two papers for my Zumba class. I counted, and I wrote a grand total of 200 double-spaced pages. Like I said, the semester was crazy.
Through all that writing, I learned so much about myself and how the writing process works for me. (When you end up writing that much, you learn pretty quick.) I learned that I hate writing the initial draft. I feel like I’m extracting pieces of my brain and throwing them against a page. The purpose of this part, for me, is getting my thoughts to a place where I can see them and work with them, shape them and morph them into a final piece that I am actually willing to show someone.
After that comes the fun part: revision. For me this is where the writing comes alive. I already have the rough materials and I am able to start rearranging and molding it into the polished piece it will be. I expand on ideas that aren’t fully developed and I let the writing simply come to me. In this process I usually double or triple the length of the original draft.
Revision is the hardest part for many young writers, and not because they don’t know how. The act of revision is actually quite simple, and the only really hard part is the amount of time it can take. No, it is not because revision is hard that young writers often struggle with it. The reason they have such a hard time is that they cherish their initial draft too much. They are like a parent whose child can do wrong: “How dare you say my baby needs to be changed! My baby is perfect.” The fact is that your writing, you brainchild, needs work. Newsflash! It’s not going to be perfect the first time around. Taking the time to revise it yourself allows you to shape it and mold it into what you want it to be.
Truly great writing takes time. For example, it took J. R. R. Tolkein 14 years to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now that is an extreme example, and I don’t suggest that you take that long. But I do think that it is important to take a step back from your writing and then come back to it later with fresh eyes.
I encourage you, if you are a young writer, don’t look at revision as a chore. Look at it as an opportunity to make sure your writing says what you want it to say.
Many blessings and inspired writing,