A Dozen Revisions

My overall revision strategy is to approach my writing knowing that I will constantly rewrite and revise from start to finish. The image below is a screenshot of the multiple versions of a research paper I wrote last semester for an independent study. I saved the document as a new version whenever I made significant global changes or deleted a substantial amount of writing that was no longer valuable. In about seven weeks, this turned out to be a dozen major revisions. This is what my folder looked like by the time I submitted my final project:

revisions 0-12

I’ll briefly describe my revision process from one version to the next:

  • Paper v0 – This is not actually a paper in any traditional sense. It is a compilation of my ideas and notes from my primary texts, organized by categories of analysis.
  • Paper v1 – Still not really a coherent paper, but this version incorporates most of my secondary sources (research on history, critical theory, etc.).
  • Paper v2 – I started actually writing: I analyzed the textual evidence and made connections between them and the historical and ideological contexts.
  • Paper v3 – After rereading v2, I realized it was still a mess, way too long, and unclear. I deleted a lot of what did not fit or add to my overall argument (still not articulated).
  • Paper v4 – Running out of time before my first deadline, I read through my paper one more time, rewriting as I read and hastily writing an introduction. Without time to formulate a conclusion, I submitted this fourth version as my “first draft.”
  • Paper v5 – After receiving feedback from my professor, this version includes more historical and theoretical background. I also re-organized two of my four categories of analysis, and this substantial reorganization also meant more rewriting.
  • Paper v6 – Another front-to-back read through: rewriting, slashing, adding, re-consulting texts and sources, moving entire paragraphs around, rewriting transitions, etc.
  • Paper v7 – Rewrote my introduction and central argument and revised the rest of the paper accordingly.
  • Paper v8 – Another full read-through with rewriting/moving/deleting/adding along the way. This version finally has a conclusion and was submitted as my “second draft.”
  • Paper v9 – Reflects my first attempt at responding to my professor’s very helpful feedback, which pointed out global concerns such as transitions, and some areas needing more development. This version includes some new writing, but my revisions were focused on the most critical concerns.
  • Paper v10 – This version includes everything it can possibly include for the purposes and scope of this project. I read through the entire paper, making revisions on transitions, introduction, and conclusion (yet again).
  • Paper v11 – My “final” proofread. I printed a hard copy of v10 and read it in its entirety, focusing primarily on sentence-level concerns, but I also noticed some areas that still needed work and revised for clarity. When I completed v11, I asked my husband to read it, hoping he would find only minor, easily corrected typographical errors. Instead, he pointed out a major gap in my discussion on literary criticism. I was ultimately grateful because I kept putting that part off for “later” since I wasn’t sure what to say.
  • Paper v12 – In response to the feedback received on v11, I was at a loss so began freewriting about what I did know, and this led me to make connections that I couldn’t seem to make before. I explained this connection in my paper and submitted this as my final version.

So, this is my very long and convoluted writing/rewriting/revision process. It is a mess, and I could certainly improve by being more focused from the beginning, but I’m still working on that.


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