“Write a shitty first draft,” the advice goes. Okay, but then what? Too often, we see revision as the vague mandate to make our writing “better,” as if on a second or third pass we’ll have smarter ideas than we did the first time. Or worse, we confuse revision with editing, polishing prose and correcting mistakes but never touching the heart of a piece.
At its best, revision is both more powerful and less mysterious than that. It can be a process of discovery, a surprising journey from a first draft to a richer understanding of your writing project and to a more powerful and more nuanced expression of your ideas. But there’s nothing esoteric about it: inspiration may be mysterious, but the things you do to find your way to it are not.
Students should come to this class with a piece of writing they are in the process of revising. We’ll discuss, practice, and reflect on specific, concrete strategies for your revision toolkit: ways to explore your ideas to take a draft deeper, an expanded vocabulary for naming what your writing is or isn’t doing, ways to diagnose a draft and assess what changes to make, and frameworks for planning revision that will leave you feeling in control of your writing process rather than at its mercy.
By the end of this class, you will have a concrete revision plan for your piece, as well as a better understanding of how to approach revising other pieces in the future.
- A better understanding of the writing and revision process, and how to make this work less overwhelming and more enjoyable
- Concrete revision strategies that can be applied to your current project and future work
- Exploratory and diagnostic work on your current project, with clear next steps for your continued revision
Jaime Green is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She received her MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia, and she has taught writing at Columbia, The New School, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, BuzzFeed, The Cut, GQ.com, Popular Science, Backstage, American Theatre online, and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Catapult, the series editor for Best American Science and Nature Writing, and the romance review columnist for The New York Times.
“Jaime is an insightful, imaginative, and compassionate editor. I never felt corrected by her edits—but rather inspired and liberated to produce my best work.”
“Jaime is a wonderful editor. She pushed me to make my essay much better and more vulnerable.”
“Jaime always brings an energy to each class that always makes me want to push myself to think of new questions and explore new writing techniques.”
“Her class changed my perspective on creative writing and motivated me to be braver, bolder, and more creative.”