Chop off an arm, save a life

by Bailey Bischoff

You know it’s the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it any easier… you stare straight ahead, wishing things could be different… mentally forcing yourself to take control… repressing the urge to run away… you can do this… you CAN do this…. You can DO this… you take a deep breath… and… and…. Delete an entire paragraph.

It can be a difficult task to revise a paper. It takes a willingness on the part of the author to critique his or her own writing. Oftentimes, we put so much thought and effort into the act of writing that we can’t bear to see our paper torn apart by red slashes and arrows or see our precious words deleted. Sometimes, we don’t think that we’ll be able to come up with anything else to replace the words that are already on the page. However, there comes a time when we must realize that revising is necessary and that to truly improve our writing we must look at it with impartial eyes.

One of the most important pieces in the revision process is time. It can be extremely challenging to give yourself enough time to not only write the paper but also revise it. However, it is even more challenging to properly revise when your deadline is hanging over your head, as there is more pressure to just be done with it.

It is also important to take time in between writing and revising your paper. Take a walk, take a nap, do other homework, eat dinner: just give yourself time before looking at your paper again. You will be less attached to the words on the page if you are looking at it with new eyes and a refreshed mind. Your ability to refine your paper stems from your ability to distance yourself from your paper when you revise. Sometimes you have to chop off an arm to save a life.

Tips for revision:

  • Give yourself time to both write AND revise your paper.
  • After writing, take a break (walk, nap, eat dinner, etc.).
  • Revise your paper knowing that you can always improve and that you will have the creativity and inspiration necessary to replace what you cut out.
  • Have a friend/peer look at your paper for an even more objective critique.
  • If you can, look at your paper again for any final revisions or edits.

Bailey Bischoff is a sophomore majoring in political science.


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