I had a simple little writing project to do this week. It was merely a letter to the editor of our local newspaper to highlight a new Partner City Flag Plaza that was dedicated and celebrated one evening last week after two years of planning and raising private funds by a dedicated committee. Sounds like a simple project for a writer, doesn't it?
I wrote it last night and put it in a file. Read it this morning and was absolutely disgusted with the whole thing. It gave more information than anyone needed, and it left questions to be answered, as well. People reading a newspaper are not going to read long, rambling pieces on the Op-Ed page. A writer should say it, keep it short, make it interesting, hook the reader by using a good title. And most of all, have the purpose of the letter be evident. So, it's back to square one with this one.
This is the reason for revision. Don't ever fool yourself that the first draft of anything you write is polished enough to be sent to an editor immediately. It might look that way the moment you finish it. Maybe it's the satisfaction of having actually completed it that fools us. Let it sit overnight, or even longer, and read it again. There will be red flags waving all over your precious words.
That's the time to make some revisions. You might even let it sit another day and go over it one more time before calling it complete and ready to go. Be careful not to repeat your revising too many times. There comes a time when you have to call it done. For writers who are perfectionists, that's not easy.
I'm not a perfectionist but I do want to send my best work.
Sending a first draft seldom results in publicaton. That's the reason for revision.