For me one of the most difficult stages of the writing process is polishing.  The reason why I find it challenging is because I never know when I should be “done” with a piece of writing and I can never be sure if it is “perfect.”  I think I focus on these elements for a few specific reasons: I am a perfectionist so I tend to pick at my writing even if I am satisfied with it and I am also a huge advocate for the revision process—for me, no piece of writing is ever “done.”

This obviously presents a problem for me being a full-time graduate student.  Although I usually do not procrastinate on assignments, I do tend to “over revise” (if there is such a thing).  If I have two weeks to write a three-page paper, I will spend two weeks on it.

My typical writing process is as follows: I freewrite in order to get my thoughts out on paper and usually do not read my writing until the next day.  At that point, I dissect it in order to pull out concentrated moments of “brilliance” from which I expand upon (usually I do more research at this stage when warranted).  I then walk away from the prose again and revisit it the next day.  I then revise the paper a million times!!!

I suppose this is not the worst writing concern one could have, but it does effect my time management.

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  • Janet Dengel says:

    I think that’s actually great that you keep working on a paper, rethinking and revising. That’s always much better than saying, “Oh it’s good enough!” I have one question: When you get a paper graded and returned, do you still work on it, revising with the professor’s comments that you agree with? THAT’s when it’s ready to send out for possible publication!

  • Nicole Wittenburg says:


    I agree with Janet on that last point! If you are worried about time management, maybe you could develop a revising schedule? For example: Day 1: Development. Day 2: Organization. Day 3: Proofreading, etc. And just stick to that schedule and don’t look back. Maybe that would be worth a try?

  • Kristine Witko says:

    For me, one of the most difficult things about writing is also the revision process but for a different reason–I’m often so hesitant to make global revisions. I usually revise as I write the paper, so once I finish the conclusion, I feel like I’m “done.” This mind-set comes from so many years of writing essays last minute and not having the time to make any real changes. It was only when I started Montclair that I really began thinking of writing as a process and when I gave myself the time to work on an essay in stages. However, I’m still working on detaching myself from my drafts, even though I know that everything can be improved/changed/taken in a different direction.


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