For the great majority of people, revision is about learning material for forthcoming examinations. For the writer, revision is trying to look at work done with a fresh eye, scrubbing out and re-writing, perhaps again and again.  This is a messy business at best.  Do I jettison that well-crafted, irrelevant phrase, never to be used again?  If I’ve questioned it: yes.  Do I pare down the work to the point where I lose voice and perhaps heart as well?  No.  Where do I get the ability to know the difference? Er…

You can ask good friends to look at your work, tell you where they are confused by it, or where they simply do not know what you are driving at; but it is a real commitment on their part.  Will they tell you the truth, or will they say something benign to keep you happy?

Your worst critic is one who says, “Great, fascinating,” and no more.  This means, they haven’t read it or they think they need your friendship or they feel it’s not right to comment and discourage.  This is marginally worse than the friend who says no more than four words, “I read your book.” (And?)

After all that, you still need to get your head down and do the revision.  No-one can do it for you. Anyone else will misread you and get it all wrong.  It’s like someone taking over your knitting. Nobody else’s tension is ever the same.

Two things are helpful: print it out and read it aloud.  That way, awkwardness in the text becomes readily apparent.

A third thing is even more helpful: when you have read it so many times, you cannot see it or hear it any more, put time and distance between you and the manuscript.  Put it at the back of the filing cabinet.  Give it sufficient time and you’ll see how dreadful it is and what must be done to rescue it.

Give it really a lot of time and you’ll wonder where you got the genius to write it at all.