I am working on several sets of revisions at the moment, and find (this might just be me) that the process of dealing with many different reviewer comments sends me into an anxious spiral that makes doing work of any kind difficult. In these moments, I feel like the executive function part of my brain is shut off – which is a problem because it is precisely the part that I need to make sense of the many (and sometimes conflicting) revision suggestions.
Many years ago, after googling around for a how-to for getting started on article revisions, I came up with a system that helps to mitigate that anxiety.
- Create a spreadsheet with columns for ‘reviewer,’ ‘comment,’ ‘category,’ ‘notes,’ and ‘completed.’
- Read through each set of comments, and pull quotations directly into the spreadsheet. One row per comment.
- Close the comment files. Take a break.
- Return and read through the comments again. Begin to group them by type (I often have categories for grammar, context, and framing, but the narrower the category the more helpful.)
- Sort the spreadsheet by the categories. Then read through again.
Once I get to this point, I have a better holistic sense of changes that need to be made. I work through each category, piece by piece, and make notes about what I have decided to change and what I have decided to keep. This helps with the cover memo when resubmission time comes. I also mark off revisions as I go, which helps to feel like the giant revision project is manageable.