To Revise or Nor To Revise—That is the Question


One of the most important writing lessons I’ve learned over the years is when NOT to revise my work. Let me explain—revising your work is extremely important and we all need to take it seriously. But, if you try to revise everything you write you will use up too much time that you could spend on new, creatively-driven writing. How many pages of new material could you write in the time it takes you to revise two or four pages well? Plus, revising can quickly turn into a mundane task where boredom and duty force you to do it instead of setting aside the best time for it and clearly “seeing” what you’ve written and making quality, reader-focused, revisions.

Tip #1: make sure you devote enough of your time to rough draft, creative, and exploratory writing you don’t immediately revise, so you are sure to create a bit of writing that pleases you and, most importantly, your target reader. Picture a funnel and your creative and exploratory writing goes into the top of the funnel. You need to spend enough time creating so the bit that comes out the bottom is really high quality.

Tip #2: Motivation and energy are the two keys to the excellence of your revising. You need them both to revise with the enthusiasm necessary to take your writing from normal to remarkable. Revising is not duty or grinding it out to get it checked off the list of writing do’s and don’ts. Revising demands the right motivation (making the writing that pleases you better for the reader—I call it enhancing the reader experience), and two, the energy to do it enthusiastically—welcome the challenge of making it better.

Revising your work isn’t a chore it’s part of the normal writing process. What’s critical is when you choose to do it and how you choose to do it. The when is not as your creating. It’s later. The how is with enthusiasm and a pure motivation of making what you have created the best it can be for the intended reader.

You can visit my website for more writing and publishing tips.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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