If you were asked what you thought was the most important part of the writing process, what would you say? Planning and outlining? Writing? Revision? If I was asked this question a week ago, I would have said that the writing was most important. After all, you can’t go through the writing process without writing. So that must be the most important part, right?
Revision – editing and proofreading – is the most important part of the writing process. What changed my mind was something that I read in my textbook for the course I’m currently taking. The chapter, which talks about proofreading and editing, stated in the first paragraph that proofreading is important because it is your last chance to show the world what you can do. After you write anything — social media post, email, blog, research paper, novel — you need to spend the time making it your best work. Those are your words, thoughts, and ideas and it’s important that the reader clearly gets the point, or points, that you are trying to make.
This step is not the most fun part of the writing process. Proofreading is not as interesting as writing witty dialogue between characters. It’s not as thrilling as putting a fast-paced action scene into words. To be honest, editing and proofreading your work can be boring, tedious, and time consuming. BUT IT IS NECESSARY!!!
So necessary in fact that I get to write a blog post about my revision process and where I could strengthen it for a school assignment. 😊
Let’s take a look at how I attack the tasks of proofreading and editing…
MY REVISION PROCESS
STEP ONE: OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
One of the best things you can do for your work after you have finished writing is to PUT IT AWAY! Don’t look at it for at least a day. I say at least a day because the length of time that I let something sit varies depending on what I’m working on. A paper for school I put away for a day before I get back to it but a short story I may let sit for a week. I’m ashamed to say that both of my novels that I completed in 2017 sat for a year because I did not touch them at all in 2018
STEP TWO: PRINT, REREAD AND REFRESH
Having a hard copy is important when editing/proofreading, your eyes catch errors that they would miss reading on the computer screen and it’s also easier to take notes as your read along.
At the beginning of the month I pulled the novel out I had written for NANO 2017 and I read through the entire work at one time. No distractions, and no interruptions. The main point of this step is to refamiliarize myself with what I’ve written. I wasn’t looking for grammar or spelling errors, although I did make note if I saw one. Instead I was reading to make sure that the story made sense. Did the story flow smoothly or were there parts that would be confusing to the reader? I’m not spending time trying to answer these questions, just taking notes.
STEP THREE: ONE THING AT A TIME
This is my least favorite step of my process because it is tiresome and time consuming. I read through my work multiple times, each time with a different focus. I read through once to find grammar or spelling errors, again to look for words that I have used too many times or sentences that could be cut, and again to make sure all details are consistent. I find that it’s easier to find all the errors if I’m not looking for them all at once because my brain isn’t overloaded.
For longer works I go chapter by chapter. For example, so far with my NANO novel I have read the first chapter 4 times. Each time focused on something different. When I feel chapter one has been proofread and edited enough I will move onto chapter two.
STEP FOUR: RETYPE & REPEAT
I am also retyping each chapter in a new Word document as I edit. Once I finish the last chapter I will repeat steps 1-4 at least one more time.
School papers, short stories, and blog I also completely retype after I proofread/edit fixing errors as I go along.
What Can I Improve??
Going with the tradition of school assignments I must reflect on what I have learned and how I can improve. The one piece of advice I took away from the text that I want to incorporate in my revision process in the future is scheduling. Scheduling is important and this blog is a perfect example why.
This blog was due Monday. I didn’t schedule my time well enough to ensure that I completed my assignment on time. In fact, this may be the latest I have ever turned in an assignment. Not to mention that since I am so late turning this assignment in, I don’t have the time I need and want to adequately proofread and edit. I can not let my work sit for a day before reviewing it because I don’t have a day.
A rushed proofreading and editing job is a terrible thing because that is the last chance that you have to make sure you are putting out your best work. Once you hit submit, publish, or post there is no turning back.