Revision Strategies, part 2

You’ve let your writing rest, given it a reshaping and let it rest again in a draft-free place…

(think of bread dough rising–allow sufficient time for growth to happen).

When you’re ready for another revision, try this 7-step strategy:

  1. Put your brain in left-hemisphere, critical thinking mode.
  2. Mark every paragraph that is empty of sensory details and analogies. 
  3. Properly thank your inner critic for helping, and politely ask her/him to go away for a while.
  4. Turn on your right brain creative mode. Play some music. Look at photographs or art. Go sit in a coffee shop or park. Do whatever unleashes your creativity. Doodle, sketch and brainstorm all over your original writing and in a notebook–do a jazz riff on the possible things you could add to your story or scene. Go off on tangents.
  5. Put it all away for a day or a week or however long you need to separate from it, so it no longer feels like your favorite child.
  6. When you take it out again, invite your inner critic to run the party. By training your hemispheres to share, to take turns, you’ll become a whole-brained writer. Let your rational brain decide what to keep and what to discard, what will enhance and enliven your readers’ experience of the story. Put it all together in a reasonable order and fuss around with the commas and semi-colons. Take care of the it’s and its, there, their and they’re.
  7. When you’re satisfied, put it away for at least a day before proofing it again for grammar, punctuation, spelling. Then hand it off to a trusted reading/writing partner or group.

Our next article covers what kind of feedback to request from your writing partners or group.

Do you have any tricks for getting your inner critic to take turns with (and not dominate or be subordinate to) your inner artist?



    1. That’s fairly common. And a good sign that you’re using the right brain during free writing, and able to lock out the critical (and interfering) part of the brain.

      Would you consider yourself predominantly right-brained/artistic? (As opposed to predominantly left-brained/logical-rational?)

  1. Thank for you for this. I especially appreciate the point about letting writing rest. I learned by a lot of failing that I need to let my work cool off before I can rework it. I had been thinking of this as a flaw in my writing process. It’s nice to hear otherwise.

    1. There’s no flaw in a writing process, if the process helps a writer to get words onto a page, get through revision, and complete a well-written piece, then it works. Each writer develops his/her own process. But most writers need to let work cool down, as you say, before they can see what needs editing and what doesn’t.

  2. I am new to the writing world and I am learning every day. I did not realize the importance of letting it sit for a day or a week but what a difference I am finding it makes. Thank you again your posts are quite helpful to the beginner that I am.

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