When Should You Stop Revising?

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When should you stop revising? Some writers and editors often say that all good writing is rewriting and mostly they’re right. But in revising your writing you will eventually come to a point of diminishing returns. If you have put substantial effort into turning out three drafts, we questions whether, say, two more drafts would improve your writing in proportion to the amount of time they would take.

Consider These Points :

• When you have read and reread something seven or eight times, you lose distance from it and can no larger see its flaws.

• You may be worrying too much. Perhaps you would learn more by moving on to something new.

• You run the risk of becoming a perfectionist who can’t turn loose a piece of writing because it’s not exactly right. Nothing is ever exactly right.

So do some cost accounting. Are you willing to write and rewrite and get feedback, then rewrite again to turn a piece of B work into A work? Would an extra six or eight hours be a good investment? Writers who ask themselves these questions may decide to settle for less than their best because they have other priorities. That’s legitimate and often sensible decision. But it’s good to know that most competent writers can become excellent writers if they have the time, will and energy to do so. And Revising is the key.

You can also work on internalizing some sentence patterns that will strengthen your writing and cut down the time you spend on revising.

We suggest developing these habits.

• Start your sentences with a subject that is a concrete noun.

• Put people in your sentences when you can.

• Avoid passive verbs unless they’re absolutely necessary.

• Avoid long introductory clauses.

• Avoid strung – out noun phrases.

• Break your writing into readable chunks and short paragraphs.

The more you’re aware of these elements of clear writing, the better your first drafts will be.

Other Pages in This Section :
  • An Overview of The Revision Process

  • A Plan for Revising In Stages

  • Getting Response from Others

  • Successful Writing Index

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