Writers, It’s Time to Stop Dreading the Revision Process

Photo of someone's hands breaking a pencil in frustration near a computer keyboard.
Embrace the revision process in your business writing. (Photo: dolgachov)

If at first you don’t succeed… join the club.

There’s no reason to be frustrated if you aren’t able to write exactly what you want on the first attempt. In fact, that may work to your advantage.

Many writers have, unfortunately, given the act of revising their work a negative connotation, but it’s actually an opportunity to assess what they’ve written down and make it better.

Revising business writing should be a welcome necessity—something that you want to do. Why?

Revision embraces reflection. And just as a professional photographer will tell you that it can take multiple attempts to get the photo she wants to capture, a successful business writer will—if she is truthful—admit that it often takes multiple revisions to uncover the message she meant to convey.

A Different Perspective

The first draft gets your ideas down. It’s best to disconnect your internal editor and just let the words and ideas flow.

Here’s a scandalous thought:

Don’t even stop to fix the typos.

Dispense with concern about sentence structure, grammar, and even word choice. If you can’t think of the word you want, leave a note for yourself in brackets and come back to it later.

When this first draft is completed—and you may be surprised by how much more writing you get done this way—it’s time to look at revisions.

Whether you choose to wait a few days or jump right into it, remember that revision is all about change. But why must change be bad? A caterpillar changes into a butterfly. That’s a pretty spectacular metamorphosis.

Types of Revisions

  • Rewriting: When you’re going to make substantial, contextual changes to your work, the revising you’ll be doing is rewriting. This is the heavy-lifting phase.
  • Editing: Next come the revisions you’ll do during the editing process. Here’s when you’ll focus on word choices. The context of your writing should already be pretty much smoothed out, and your primary purpose for editing is to seek sense and organization.
  • Proofreading: Read here for a deeper look at this step in the revision process. Briefly, proofreading is a focus on grammar, spelling, and punctuation—simply a last check for errors. There shouldn’t be any writing at this point.

Multiple Opportunities

Is it possible that you’ll make it all the way to the proofreading stage and find something you want to revise? Absolutely.

Is this a bad thing? Hardly. It’s another invitation to discover the message you really mean to communicate.

Need help with proofreading or copy editing your business writing? Contact Super Copy Editors now for a quick quote.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

photo of a collection of style guides and books on advertising, marketing, and education