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Logan Simmons
Megan Keaton
ENC 1102
July 2, 2013
Key Term Exploration
Drafting and revision are two simple concepts that can have a drastic effect both on ones
writing process, and the finished product of what they are working on. Before we discuss details
regarding these two terms, let us first define them and develop a deep understanding of what
each term refers to. A draft refers to a first or preliminary form of writing, or in other words, any
form of a work of writing that is not considered the final product. A singe work of writing may
have multiple drafts, or it may only have one draft, it is entirely dependent on who is writing it
and how well they feel it has turned out. Some individuals write one first draft, edit it, and turn in
a final product while others may write several drafts before refining the piece into its final form.
The next term that we must understand is revision. The word revision refers to a change or set of
changes that corrects or improves something, and in this case, that something is a work of
literature or some form of writing. Now we must understand that we have a solid foundation for
the meanings of these terms, allow us to explore how these two terms can be used together and
consider not only what it may look like to draft and revise, but also how drafting and revising
might affect a persons writing process.
Let us first discuss the idea of writing drafts. Writing drafts is something that every
author does differently. For example, some authors may write a draft in order from beginning to
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end, while other authors, myself included, may write a first draft out of order, beginning with
what they know they can write about. When this is the case, the author may write different pieces
of the whole writing work and then put them together in the end much like a puzzle. When
drafting, there is no set rule for how many drafts must be completed before a final version is
achieved. Most people agree that a good work of writing requires more than just one draft while
others believe that only one is necessary. However, one thing that they can all agree on regarding
drafts is that everyone, even the greatest writers of all time, write shitty first drafts. In fact, this
idea is so widely accepted that Anne Lamott wrote an entire article on the subject, entitled
Shitty First Drafts. In this article, Lamott explains how crucial the drafting process is in
developing a well rounded, great piece of literature. She goes as far as saying that one cannot
even have a great piece of work without first writing a horrendous first-rendition of the final
product. For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only
way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts (Lamott 22). She
says that first drafts are especially important because you can let your thoughts run wild on
paper, knowing that nobody has to see the work. And in the chaos that is the first draft, you may
find an amazing idea floating around that you can expand on and use to point you in the direction
that you want your writing to go. The bottom line is that first drafts give us the chance to figure
out what exactly we want to do with the piece of work that is in front of us. After a draft is
completed, a writer must then revise that draft and develop a new draft, repeating this process
until a final product is completed.
Revising a draft will most often result in another draft that will require even further and
further revising, resulting in a seemingly endless cycle of revising papers. This process, similar
to drafting, is usually different for everyone. Some writers will only revise their work one time
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before they are satisfied while others may revise dozens of times. This process of continuous
revising is compared to sculpting by Barbara Tomlinson in her article entitled Tuning, Tying,
and Training Texts: Metaphors for Revision. In this work, she states Analogies to sculpting
may allow for or emphasize reformulation of the text. Writers revising may feel like sculptors
chiseling (Tomlinson 7). Personally, I think that this analogy hits the nail on the head, along
with the other analogies that Tomlinson uses throughout her article. I believe that the process of
revision is very similar to an artist sculpting a large slab of marble. It is a very intricate process
that often can take a large sum of time and should not be taken lightly. In the end, both sculpting
and revising have the same final product: a work of art. Susan Sontag presents an interesting idea
regarding revising your writing in her article entitled Directions: Write, Read, Rewrite. Repeat
Steps 2 and 3 stating that poets may not revise their work because often, the entire poem is
already written in their heads. Blind writers can never reread what they dictate. Perhaps this
matters less for poets, who often do most of their writing in their head before setting anything
down on paper.But prose writers, who work in a lumberyard of words, cant hold it all in their
heads. They need to see what theyve written (Sontag 2). I think that this idea is especially
important because it reinforces the idea that revising can be different for everyone, regardless of
what they are writing. Poetry writers may revise a poem several times in their head until it
sounds good enough to them to put on paper, or they may not revise the work at all. While poetry
writers may have less revising to do on their work, prose writers usually have a large amount of
revision required over several drafts. RThe most important thing to take away from this is that
revision is a skill that all writers must learn to master in order for their writing to truly flourish,
regardless of what their method towards it may be.
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Drafting and revision are two concepts that can truly drive writers mad, but at the same
time are impossible for them to live without. These acts bring life to a piece of literature and
allow an unfinished idea be polished into a refined final form. Myself in particular, I very seldom
revise my work and upon reading these articles have decided that I am going to break that habit
so that I can embrace my full potential as a writer. Who knows how much I can improve my
work just by taking a little extra time to revise it, draft by draft. Without drafting or revision,
most works of literature would not exist, and it is a safe assumption to say that no literature
would be as good as the refined works that we have today. These important writing skills are
almost like a second chance for the writer, an opportunity to turn a good idea into a great one.
And while it can be overwhelming when one first begins to learn how to truly draft and revise
their work, these two skills are ones that cannot be dealt without in the world of literature. In
addition to improving a writers work, they also add style and variety to every work of literature
that exists.








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Works Cited
Lamott, Anne. Shitty First Drafts. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
New York: Anchor Books, 1994. 21-7. Print.
Sontag, Susan. Directions: Write, Read, Rewrite. Repeat Steps 2 and 3. New York Times
(18 Dec. 2000): E1-2. ProQuest Historical Newspaper. Web. 18 Jun. 2014.
Romlinson, Barbara. Tuning, Tying, and Training Texts: Metaphors for Revision Written
Communication 5 (1988): 58-81. Sage. Web. 18 Jun. 2014.