As we all know, good writing is actually rewriting. And the best time to rewrite something is not right after you have written it. You have to gain some distance from it. This can be a problem if you don’t have much time, so here is some advice to help you edit your AMCAS essay if you’re in a hurry.
If you can set your AMCAS rough draft aside for a week, that is ideal. Two weeks would be even better. But what if you are in a hurry? What if you do not have a week to set aside your essay?
The best way to gain distance and another perspective on your essay in a hurry is to turn it over to a professional editor and to ask for advice. But what if you do not have time for that? What if you have only a few hours? Here are some approaches you can use. These are a few practical tips used by proofreaders and editors, but they can help you in the editing of your own material as well:
1. Again, the best way to gain distance is time
If you can set the essay aside even overnight, this can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the rewrite.
2. If you have to develop a second draft on the same day, set the document aside
Spend at least two hours doing something totally unrelated. Intense cardiovascular exercise is the best approach but that may not be an option; meditation is the next best idea, along with going for a walk outside, especially if you have been inside all day. Listen to some music. Water the plants. Plan a trip. Walk the dog. After at least an hour devoted to a different activity, take at least 20 minutes to read your favorite writer of English prose. This will provide some solid rhythms and constructions, and it can help you in the rewrite. Also, if at all possible, change the setting (go to a different room), and also change the lighting when you do your first rewrite.
3. In the first rewrite, rewrite the paragraphs in reverse order of presentation
This helps you focus on the English and avoid the inevitable traps that ensue when you always read through the essay from beginning to end.
4. Change things up
Also, in the first rewrite, it can often help to work in a different font and ideally a different font color as well. If you can work on a hard copy, that can help also.
DO NOT DO THIS
The biggest mistake I have seen candidates make is this: They give their essay to four or five friends.
This is a sure recipe for trouble.
What you get back is four or five wonderful new perspectives on how you could develop four or five wonderful new essays. Great. You do not need to develop four or five wonderful new essays. You need to develop your own AMCAS essay.
YOUR EDITOR’S ROLE
Your EssayEdge editor’s most important role, aside from keeping you out of trouble and ensuring that the English is all great, is to help you gain some distance from your essay and to make sure you are playing to your strengths. All good writers need an editor, and this is especially true for writers of personal statements, because this is a form of marketing writing with which most candidates are completely unfamiliar.
In the AMCAS essay especially, the competition is so intimidating that without an ally, it is easy to feel defeated before you even start. But the key is to just be yourself and not try to impress anyone. You believe you should be a doctor. Your EssayEdge editor wants to help you convey this message in the clearest and most approachable language, pointing to the evidence. It is the evidence that will win over your reader, presented in a humble and approachable tone. The only way to achieve such a tone is with a bit of distance from the essay, which can be difficult for you to achieve on your own as the writer.
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