This post starts with the question, “Once out of school, who uses the Reviewing Phase?” And the answer is, “Well, anyone engaged in activities with any sort of creative or scientific influence.” More of us are actively engaging in this phase regularly, and we don’t even realize it. We’re just trying things out and making adjustments until we get what we want…or something better.
Writers are very familiar with this, or at least becoming familiar with it all the time. It’s not unusual to hear an author talk about sitting down to write a short story, only to realize that the story is better suited to a novel. It’s only slightly more unusual to hear an author talk about starting a novel, only to realize there’s only enough story for a really awesome short story. Sometimes, writers find that what they thought was a story best suited to text would be better served by a visual format, and some writers working on a story meant for a visual format realize they’d be better off creating a textual narrative instead.
In some cases, the writer doesn’t even need a change of form. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as realizing the story they sat down to write and the story they ended up telling aren’t the same story. A different character ended up as the protagonist. A more interesting antagonist appeared. A planned character never made it to the page because they never fit the direction the story took during writing.
Designers also go through this on a regular basis. The sketch didn’t materialize so well, so the designer makes adjustments to make the actual piece viable. Or, like the writer, the designer sets out with a specific outcome in mind, only to change plans mid-project when a sudden inspiration strikes. (This would also be known as the, “Yeah, but what if I did this instead?” moment.) Cooks will find they don’t have all the ingredients they thought they did, so they’ll improvise a recipe, sometimes changing it for the better. There really isn’t a field where some sort of trial-and-error- experimentation and discovery doesn’t happen.
The truth is, anyone who engages in activities where something is being made, who plays with ideas and materials in their work, who says, “Yes, but…”, who challenges their own thinking as they work is engaging in the Reviewing Phase. It’s how breakthroughs and innovations happen.