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Revising Your Drafts

Revision is an indispensable component that underpins the success of any writing project, be it an academic essay, a professional report, or a creative piece. It serves as a transformative process that elevates the initial draft to a refined and polished final product. Through revision, writers can fine-tune their ideas, sharpen their arguments, and ensure that their message is conveyed with utmost clarity and coherence. This critical evaluation provides an opportunity to detect and rectify errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting, instilling a sense of professionalism in the work. Moreover, revision facilitates language refinement, enabling writers to choose words and expressions that resonate powerfully with the intended audience.

Here are three reasons why revision is absolutely essential to any writing process:

  1. Enhancing Clarity and Coherence: During revision, you have the opportunity to review your initial draft with fresh eyes. This critical evaluation helps identify areas where your ideas may be unclear or disjointed. By clarifying your arguments and ensuring logical flow, you create a more coherent and reader-friendly piece.

  2. Polishing Language and Style: Revision allows you to refine your writing style and language choices. You can eliminate unnecessary jargon, tighten sentences, and enhance the overall readability of your work. Fine-tuning your language ensures that your message is conveyed effectively and engagingly to your target audience.

  3. Error Detection and Improvement: The revision process is crucial for spotting and rectifying errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. By meticulously reviewing your work, you minimize the chances of typographical mistakes and improve the overall professionalism of your writing. Additionally, revision enables you to address weak arguments, strengthen evidence, and incorporate constructive feedback, ultimately elevating the overall quality of your work.

By carefully reviewing their work, writers can also identify and address weak arguments or gaps in evidence, strengthening the overall persuasiveness and credibility of their content. Embracing the revision process allows for the incorporation of constructive feedback from peers, instructors, or editors, harnessing external perspectives to refine and improve the work further.

A robust revision process demonstrates a commitment to excellence, ensuring that the writing project reaches its full potential and leaves a lasting impact on its readers.

Keep In Mind

When revising your writing, several important considerations can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of your work. Here are the most crucial things to keep in mind during the revision process:

  • Clarity and Coherence: Ensure that your ideas are expressed clearly and logically. Check for any confusing or ambiguous sentences and rephrase them for better comprehension. Think abou your audience. Who are you writing for? Is it clear for them? Ensure that the flow of your writing is smooth, with each paragraph and section connecting seamlessly to the next.

  • Consistency and Focus: Maintain consistency in your writing style, tone, and formatting. Verify that your content aligns with your main thesis or purpose, and remove any tangential or irrelevant information that may distract from your central message.

  • Supporting Evidence and Examples: Check that your arguments are well-supported with relevant evidence and examples. Ensure that you have cited sources correctly and that the evidence reinforces your main points effectively.

  • Engaging Introduction and Conclusion: Review your introduction to ensure it grabs the reader's attention and clearly presents your thesis. Likewise, your conclusion should provide a strong summary of your key points and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

  • Readability and Flow: Read your work aloud or have someone else read it to identify areas where the writing feels awkward or stilted. Adjust sentence structure and paragraph organization to improve the overall readability and flow.

  • Addressing Feedback: If you received feedback from peers, instructors, or editors, carefully consider their suggestions and incorporate relevant improvements into your revision process. The Writing Lab's staff is particularly trained to provide feedback on your writing.

  • Taking Breaks: Give yourself some time between writing and revising. Taking breaks allows you to approach your work with a fresh perspective, making it easier to spot errors and areas for improvement.

  • Staying Objective: Approach your work with objectivity during revision. Be willing to make substantial changes and let go of parts that do not contribute effectively to your overall message.

  • Meeting Requirements: Ensure that your writing fulfills the requirements and guidelines set forth by your assignment or project. Check for any specific formatting, citation styles, or length requirements.

By keeping these things in mind, you can conduct a comprehensive and effective revision that leads to a well-crafted and impactful piece of writing. Remember that revision is a crucial part of the writing process and plays a significant role in achieving success with your work.

Getting Distance and Perspective

  1. Fresh Perspective: Stepping away from your writing for a while allows you to come back with a fresh perspective. When you've been immersed in your work for an extended period, it becomes challenging to view it objectively. Taking a break allows you to see your writing with new eyes, making it easier to spot errors, inconsistencies, and areas that need improvement.

  2. Detecting Flaws: Distance enables you to identify flaws in your writing more effectively. You become less attached to your original ideas and can objectively assess whether your arguments are sound, evidence is well-supported, and logical connections are present. This critical evaluation helps you refine and strengthen your work.

  3. Improved Editing: When you return to your writing after a break, you are more likely to be detail-oriented during the editing process. You can spot grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that you might have overlooked while immersed in the writing phase.

  4. Enhanced Creativity: Stepping away from your writing allows your subconscious mind to continue working on your ideas. As a result, you may find new insights, creative solutions, or fresh angles to approach your content, enhancing the overall quality of your work.

  5. Reduced Bias: Emotional attachment to your writing can lead to bias, making it difficult to see its flaws objectively. Distance helps reduce this bias, allowing you to make more objective and unbiased decisions during the revision process.

  6. Time for Reflection: Taking a break gives you time to reflect on your writing goals, the clarity of your message, and the overall effectiveness of your piece. This reflection can lead to valuable insights and improvements.

  7. Less Fatigue: Long writing sessions can lead to mental fatigue, impacting your ability to revise effectively. Getting distance and returning with a refreshed mind allows you to engage more fully in the revision process.

In summary, getting distance from your writing during the revision process is crucial because it provides a fresh perspective, helps you detect flaws more effectively, improves the editing process, enhances creativity, reduces bias, allows time for reflection, and minimizes mental fatigue. By taking a break and returning with renewed focus, you can approach your revision with a clear and objective mindset, leading to a more refined and polished final piece of writing.

Common Mistakes

Ineffective incorporation of evidence can weaken your arguments and undermine your credibility. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Irrelevant or weak evidence: Including evidence that is not directly related to your argument or lacks substantial support can be counterproductive. Ensure that the evidence you present is directly applicable and provides meaningful support to your claims.

  • Misrepresentation or cherry-picking: Distorting or selectively presenting evidence to fit your narrative is a common mistake. Always accurately represent the evidence and avoid cherry-picking information that supports your preconceived notions while ignoring contradictory evidence. This undermines the integrity of your argument.

  • Lack of credibility: Failing to evaluate the credibility of your sources can be detrimental. Relying on unreliable or biased sources can diminish the trustworthiness of your argument. Make sure to critically assess the expertise, reputation, and objectivity of the sources you cite.

  • Insufficient analysis: Simply presenting evidence without providing a thorough analysis or interpretation can weaken your argument. Take the time to analyze and explain the implications of the evidence, highlighting its relevance to your overall message. This helps your audience understand the significance of the evidence and its role in supporting your claims.

  • Overreliance on a single source or type of evidence: Depending too heavily on a single source or type of evidence can limit the strength and breadth of your argument. Incorporate a variety of sources and evidence types to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive support for your claims.

  • Lack of context: Failing to provide sufficient context for the evidence can make it difficult for your audience to understand its significance. Explain the background, methodology, or relevant details associated with the evidence to enhance comprehension and ensure your audience can properly interpret it.

  • Disregarding counterarguments: Ignoring counterarguments or opposing evidence weakens your position. Addressing counterarguments demonstrates your understanding of the complexity of the issue and allows you to provide a more balanced and persuasive argument. Anticipate potential objections and incorporate counterarguments into your presentation.

  • Incoherence and lack of structure: If the evidence is not seamlessly integrated into your argument or if your argument lacks a logical structure, it can confuse your audience and diminish the impact of your message. Ensure that your evidence is presented in a clear, coherent, and organized manner that supports the overall flow of your argument.

By avoiding these common mistakes and striving for effective incorporation of evidence, you can strengthen your arguments, bolster your credibility, and increase the persuasive power of your message. Thoughtful evaluation, accurate representation, thorough analysis, and proper contextualization are key to successfully incorporating evidence into your communication.

Revising As You Write

You can revise as you go, and this approach is often referred to as "recursive writing." It involves making revisions and edits to your work as you progress through the writing process. Here are some advantages and considerations for revising as you go:


  • Immediate Improvement: Revising while drafting allows you to immediately improve the quality of your writing. Fixing errors and refining sentences as you write can lead to a cleaner and more polished initial draft.

  • Enhanced Flow: Addressing issues with clarity, coherence, and style as they arise helps maintain a smoother flow of ideas. This can prevent major reorganization during the later stages of revision.

  • Reduced Cognitive Load: Addressing minor issues early on reduces the cognitive load of revisions at the end of the process. You can focus on more substantial changes when you reach the revision phase.

  • Clearer Thinking: Making revisions as you go forces you to think critically about your writing in real-time. This can lead to clearer and more well-structured content.


  • Balancing Speed and Quality: While revising while drafting can enhance quality, it might slow down your initial writing speed. Finding the right balance between progress and perfection is important.

  • Avoid Perfectionism: Be cautious not to get stuck in an endless cycle of revising and re-revising a single sentence or paragraph. Allow yourself to make progress and come back to fine-tuning later.

  • Maintaining Momentum: Some writers prefer to maintain a continuous flow of writing during the drafting phase, reserving revisions for a separate round. Revising as you go might disrupt this momentum.

  • Revision Overload: Constantly revising can lead to fatigue and hinder your creative process. Set specific points during your writing session for revising rather than editing every sentence immediately.

  • Clarity in Direction: Revising early might require you to have a clearer outline or plan for your writing to avoid extensive rewrites due to shifts in direction.

Whether you revise as you go or save revisions for a dedicated phase depends on your writing style, personal preferences, and the nature of your project. Some writers find that revising while drafting helps maintain a higher level of quality from the outset, while others prefer to focus on generating ideas during the initial draft and refine them later during the revision phase. Experiment with both approaches and find what works best for you.

The Writing Lab
The Writing Lab | 301 Cooper Library, Clemson, S.C. 29634