I have been working with writers for a number of years on everything from personal narratives to research papers to literary analysis. And the thing that I most commonly hear is that they don’t want to revise.
Revision, for many first time writers, feels like failure. You wrote something down, and it isn’t perfect. And that’s ok. It is part of the process. First drafts are meant to be bad because they are where you first start trying out ideas and seeing how your work might come together. And this is why revision is so important.
In life, we get very few do-overs, except when it comes to writing. When it comes to writing, the do-over is essential. In fact, it’s often necessary to revise more than once. I know that when I wrote my thesis, it was a document I revised for months. My central argument largely remained the same, but I had to take out passages I loved because they didn’t support my argument well. I had to add information in that I didn’t think was necessary until I realized that it provided context for my argument. The revision was essential.
My point is that revision is where you get the chance to remake your words into something truly beautiful, transcendent, powerful, hilarious…whatever tone you may be going for. The idea that you will write down a perfect piece on the first try is simply unrealistic. It doesn’t happen. There is always room for improvement.