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Q: What strategies do you use during the revision process?
A: Mike Kennamer: “Before I send the article to an editor, I always read it out loud as part of the editing process. I also try to get colleagues to read it and provide input before I send it off to the editor.
When a section just doesn’t seem to flow as I would like, I will print the article and (literally, with scissors) cut out each paragraph and lay it on the floor in the order that it is in for the article. Then I will start to move certain paragraphs around to see if that helps with flow. I use the floor because it gets me out of the normal place where I write. There is something about sitting on the floor with my work in little paragraph-sized slips of paper that helps
As a writer, I battle with procrastination, always have. At times I also find it strangely hard to revise my work. But in graduate school I hit upon a way of using my procrastination to produce nearly final copy the first time. The “method” was suggested to me by reading the Autobiography of Bertrand Russell.
Many novice writers imagine clean, clear prose springing off of the fingertips of accomplished writers. Most writers will assure you that it does not work this way. We first write, and then, revise, revise, and revise some more.
Trying to write perfectly the first time around has three central problems. 1) It takes a long time; 2) It can be a waste of time, as you often can only see at the end of a paper what needs to be cut; and 3) Your writing will not be as good in the end because the best writing comes out of revising.