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Re-visioning Fridays: Do you revise as you write?

Recently, I participated in What is your writing process blogfest. A lot of writers spoke about the their writing processes, and I noticed that a few talked about revising as they wrote, or revising the next day what they wrote the day before. Dean Koontz says much the same thing: “I don’t write a quick draft and then revise; instead, I work slowly page by page, revising and polishing.”

For me, the distance between the first draft and revision is fundamental. My first drafts of short stories are all energy, no focus, and since I’ve been a pantser so far, not much plot either. Things might change when I shift to novels. They might not.
I have been doodling the last few days, like usual, but instead of letting them be in my notebooks, I’m typing them into my Daily (w)rite blog, and I’m surprised that people seem to like them as they are, raw and unpolished. All I’ve done to them is tweak a little, and correct typos. This is a totally different writing process, and I guess I’ll let the pieces languish for a while before deciding if they have any real potential.
Do you revise as you write? If yes, would you care to share how it works, and the benefits?
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I wrote and revised my first novel as I went along. The second book I just wrote and am now in the process of revisions.

    Which I will never do again.

    I find it so much easier to revise while I write, which I'm doing with Book 3.

    My process — I write however many pages, then the next day, I go over those pages before I begin the writing for the day. 12 hours seems to be enough time for me to see the work with almost fresh eyes enough to revise. And of course when the book is finished the beta's and critter will tear it up and I'll have to revise again.

  • I like the word polish much better than revise. I rarely go back to make major changes but with tweak like mad. It's a rare piece that I don't make a change on, even after the 100th "polish."

    What I get out of it is usually better structure, vocabulary use, ease of reading and flow. Changes are rarely substantial, but more about form.

  • M Pax says:

    Yes. What I first slap down is akin to a slab of clay which needs molding. I mold it until it take some sort of shape. Normally, I write then print out what I wrote. I hand edit what I wrote in the evening then start the next day with making those changes. I think maybe it makes the revision / edit phase seem less daunting to me.

  • D. P. King says:

    Dean Koontz. One of my favorites, with an approach to writing that's very much like my own. Yep. I revise as I write. Usually go through three stages until I have my "rough draft."
    Great post 🙂

  • No, I don't usually revise while I write. Although sometimes I'll go back and fix something if it's really bugging me and would have a significant effect on the plot later on if left unchanged.

  • Summer Ross says:

    I revise after I write the whole piece.