why you can’t be taught about revision (and life, really)


It seems like the last few years I’ve done more revising than writing–and maybe more revising than I’ve done in my life previous. It’s all good, though!

Honestly, it’s just another part of the process, even if you have to learn it from scratch for yourself. Yeah. That kinda burns.

Here are my top 3 takeaways about why revision can’t be taught:

I am brilliant because that rhymes with “can’t be bought, only earned”

1. It’s dominoes.

You know there are these huge problems with the text in your head, but when you actually get in there, sometimes you find that one little touch will do it.

Those little touches are 100% personal to your vision for the project, and your way of working.

2. It’s a gamble.

Sometimes just one touch will do it. Sometimes you go through making little touches only to realize you need to tear it apart, and stitch it back together with entirely different parts. This does not mean the little touches were pointless. They brought you to that point, right?

3. It’s a madman’s game.

You’re never done revising, especially if you’re working on a novel. In fact, some of the worst advice (I feel) that goes around is definitely meant to deal with this. At some point, you have to stop polishing and let the professionals work.


You can only learn how to do it for yourself. You definitely need other people to talk it over with, critique, and studying up on the common flaws (even after you think you’ve got them down) is a great shortcut to knowing yourself. But only you can get in that mess and figure out what you were trying to do.

It’s why authors get their names on the covers in big letters, and everyone else is just in the back, jumbled together. A lucky few towards the front, maybe. Anyway. Good luck.

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