(The photo above shows the revisions to Chapter 2 of my new book When Writers Drive the Workshop. In this photo, I lay out my revisions to show the messiness of my process. When I teach revision to students, I display this photo. They see that, like them, I’m also a writer who struggles through his process.)
My revision process is exhausting and exhilarating.
It’s where my real writing begins.
And I take myself through a thorough process,
To make sure my writing is as clear as possible for readers.
First, I draft.
And my draft is awful.
It’s messy and disorganized,
Just like my mind,
But I got something onto the page.
Then, I print.
I take a yellow highlighter to the text,
Or a fat, purple pen and cross out.
I discover that some of my writing really was awful,
But some of my writing contains golden lines.
And those small nuggets give me hope.
Next, I revise old-school.
I take a pair of scissors
And cut chunks.
Some of the chunks are pages.
Some of the chunks are paragraphs.
Some of the chunks are sentences.
I spread those chunks onto a table and think.
I ask myself questions:
What parts should I keep?
What parts should I delete?
What parts do I need to move around?
Then I physically re-arrange.
I discover parts that need more thinking,
So I think,
Then write some more.
And write some more.
Eventually, I’m satisfied with the additions.
I print again.
Add those additions to the table.
Tape all the pieces together.
Number the pages.
Add figures and photos.
And put it all into an order that makes my writing clear for readers.
Finally, I outline.
I write the headings and subheadings,
Down one side of a page,
And ask: “Does this arrangement tell the story I want to tell?”
If my answer is, “Yes!” I publish.
If my answer is, “No!” I revise.
And my revision process starts all over again.
About the Author
Brian Kissel is an Associate Professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His focus is writing instruction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hattie and three kiddos: Charlie, Ben, and Harriet.