The act of revising

In chapter 5 of Joseph Harris’ Rewriting, he talks about the revising one’s work. Revising as he says is “a particular form of what throughout this book [he’s] called rewriting” (Harris 98). The act of revising is basically just taking one’s previous work and turning it into something that you as the new writer will find more nuanced and interesting. The act of revision takes into account such questions as “What else might be said” and “what’s next”; when revising an original, or previously revised piece, one should find where they can expand upon the current idea or bring on new meanings and perspective.

The original, or what could be referred to as the prototype of a written piece, is what is in the mind before it is even written out on paper. Writers, as Harris says, tend to “imagine a text they are writing as a performance… and more as a work-in-progress, as an ongoing project that they can add to and reshape over time” (Harris 100). In this instance, a revision isn’t being imposed on a piece by another, but instead is one someone takes upon their own writing. As Harris says the revision takes place when the original version in the mind is taking on additions and subtractions to the work when it is thereafter placed on paper or a screen. This takes the work from the stage of invention where the writer is “trying to figure out something to write” to making it a physically written piece.

In revising an essay, it is important that one should not only think of changes to an essay, but instead one should also make them. Harris advises this as “tracking the changes you make in keyboarding a new draft of an essay can thus help make the conceptual work you’ve done in revising more visible” (Harris 104). Changes that one solely makes in the mind can easily become unclear or less sensible before actually being changed. Also, even though a change might seem clear and logical in the mind, making the change to the text might not have been the best idea. By keeping track of revisions, revisions could also be revised in order to find the most sensible final outcome for the work. In making notes of revisions, one could keep track by dashing words, using a boldface font, or underline the parts being changed or altered. In doing this, one can see the changes of signal in a project, like “from offering a simple catalogue” to “making an argument about” the subject at hand (Harris 107).

-JW