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Describe how you imagined the work would contribute to on-going conversations. What fields would it speak to, as you intended at first, and what would it say? Slice one is about good times—the sense of starting out and what you wanted when you set out writing. Re-connect with it here.
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Slice Two: What you have now. Here we use our memory and knowledge of having written our draft to see which things stick out in our mind as urgent and important for revision.
We can use a more systematic approach to step-by-step revision later, but now we want to connect in the broadest sense with what we have on our hands. What parts did you love writing?
What parts felt good to write? Were there any pleasant surprises? What do you feel good about now? What parts of the text stand out in your mind now as getting mucked up when you were writing them?
When you wrote your draft you knew some places were not going well. List them with labels in a way that identifies them for you. Now go through this list, and write a sentence or two for each that describes what you think went wrong there specifically. Slice Three: Your Destination.
This is the most fun and the most important part of the Pre-sweep goal setting. Here you get to just dream and imagine. So, go ahead and relax and imagine your finished work. See it physically. Imagine what the cover looks like and what the pages look like. How did you imagine the topic and material or research would appear in final form? How does the text array itself on the page? Just picture that in your mind. What is the biggest change that has been made to your draft that brought it to where it is in your imagination?
This could be changes in the amount and nature of material presented, stories told, descriptions and depictions and conversations portrayed, the arguments made.
It could be anything, but it is the biggest change that brought your text to this new place as it is in your imagination. And it stops right there. You have three high priority tasks now. This may seem too simple, or too touchy-feely, asking you to use— gasp— imagination, like there is something weak or new agey about that. But the fact is that most us have not specifically envisioned the most important changes to our work before.
But most importantly of all, we have no sense of what all these changes are supposed to add up to. And while the plethora of decisions that you face as a reviser is vast and deep, it is infinitely more difficult to traverse all that without a sense of where, exactly, you are trying to go. We need those, too.
Instead we have a compass, and now you can see how this relatively short and informal pre-scan starts to target your revision process. This mind-shift is essential to revision, and especially efficient revision. Now, of course there is a lot more to talk about here, like how to systematically go about enacting the changes to get where you want to be.
Having done this pre-scan, everything else about revising will become a little easier.