How to Revise Your First Draft

How to Revise Your First Draft

I feel compelled to brush up on a topic I get asked a lot about: Fresh Writing, Revising, and Polishing! It’s important to know what stage you’re at, so your writing can continue to flow with ease.
If you find yourself trying to correct your writing as you work on a first draft, chances are you’ll stall out in mid-sentence while waiting for the perfect word to show up on the page. If you’re handwriting, likely all you see are scratched out lines, arrows pointing to new ideas, maybe some tear blots smearing the ink. Writers using a computer don’t have the same evidence of their hard effort. Chances are what they’re staring at is a half-written sentence and a blinking cursor on a mostly blank page.
At the Fresh Writing stage, focus on getting your words onto the page with no censoring or judging. If you’ve been receiving my insight posts for a while, you’ve probably read something I’ve written on the topic of generating Fresh Writing. If not, you can check them out here:
How do you know your first draft is ready for revision? Wise teachers often suggest leaving your fresh writing alone for a week or two. This gives time for those new words to incubate while you play with other ideas; do some thinking and brainstorming about what comes next in a longer manuscript. Make sure you have a clear idea of your audience (who is listening) and your purpose (why are you writing this piece).
As you shift into the revision stage with a clear idea of your audience and purpose, make sure that you are feeling strong enough in your writing to receive feedback. When your writing buddies make suggestions, it’s important to feel supported by the comments made, rather than defeated. In my writing circles, I provide guidelines for giving feedback; everyone starts by reflecting what’s strong in your piece. Remember that as the writer, you have the final say. After hearing the strengths of your writing, you may want to look for places where the storyline has a gap. Perhaps there’s a section in the writing that piques your curiosity; you want to learn more. Maybe the storyline is hard to follow or feels out of order. A great way to provide a suggestion to another author who’s asking for editorial feedback is to begin your statement with, “If this was my piece, I would …”
Always begin and end with a mindset of: “What do I love about these words?” since sharing words with another person is a vulnerable act.
For those of you who would like the support of a group, consider joining Marie’s Writing Oasis, a private Facebook group where we share fresh writing, respond to each other’s questions, and support each other in our respective journeys.

Creatively Yours,
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Cover of the Writing Feedback Guidebook on an ipad

The Writing Feedback Guidebook

How to Ask For & Receive Helpful, Supportive Feedback on Your Writing

Not all writing reviewers are created equal! When you hand your carefully crafted pages to someone to provide feedback, the result is often unhelpful & at worst, can be crushing. This FREE guide will help you choose insightful, supportive readers. It will also teach you how to ask for what you need and want from them to continue honing your writing with confidence.