Revising is your way to success

Quality takes time.  A football team doesn’t take the field in preseason and expect to be perfect.  I drive by high schools all summer long and watch players and coaches practicing and sweating.  It is this effort before the game that creates winners.  When you write your essay, it’s the time and effort you put into revising that will determine your success.

You may have a great idea, but you don’t know how to develop it.  Be patient and thoughtful; try to visualize how a story unfolded or what picture you’re trying to paint with your words.   Sprinkle in as much detail as possible as you write your ideas down without getting caught up with sentence structure or spelling.  If it helps, bullet your ideas or just make a long list.  Your goal is to relax and have fun.  Write about something that’s meaningful to you – something you truly care about.  When you write from your heart, your ideas are fluid and they flow easier.  Don’t worry about spelling, grammar and sentence structure.  Each time you stop to check your spelling, you’re inhibiting the flow of ideas.

Natalie Goldberg, in her book Writing Down the Bones describes a great exercise in which you write for 20 minutes without stopping.  You don’t stop the pen from moving across the paper.  Even if you’re writing, “I have nothing to say, I have nothing to say…” it’s more about training your brain to allow ideas to flow through your fingers.  Most students will have a lot of success with this technique, and I highly recommend it.  Remember, the writing doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re not even close to publishing it.  You are looking for gems – ideas that sparkle and could become the basis for a stellar college essay.

You should also consider having someone read your first draft (It’s not cheating!).  Famous authors have several editors who give them suggestions for revisions and editing.  Don’t be afraid to let people help you.  My husband and a dear friend are my support system.  I would never publish anything without their once over for grammar and clarity.  I love getting their help!  It builds my confidence that I’m producing quality work.  They ask me great questions that guide me to clarifying my ideas.  Then before I publish, I read it over carefully and change a word or two.  Then I‘ll read it again looking for a few words within that I want to rearrange or possibly to restructure a couple of sentences.  I do this several times before I publish.  They might be minor changes, but they are also monumental because they make the finished product succinct.

I love that feeling when I know I have done enough.  It makes me feel good to know I now have a piece that is ready.  I feel satisfied with the quality and confident that I have expressed what I set out to convey.  It may take me anywhere from 5-10 hours to craft a blog post.  Remember, Walt Whitman spent his entire career revising his poetry collection, Leaves of Grass.  If you want to impress admission officers, you have to give your writing energy and effort to produce a worthy, dazzling essay.

The next step in your writing process will be editing, read more about this in Scientific Research Papers, How They Work. Good luck!