Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Meaning of Revision

"Writers go back to drafts not because the drafts are bad and need fixing, but to see what else is possible." Katie Wood Ray writes this insightful tidbit in Wondrous Words.

One of my big challenges in teaching writing has been in taking students through the writing process. Many students are happy to brainstorm for topics, do practice activities, and write a draft. What I get the most complaints about is the revising and editing portion of the process. I find many don't know even where to begin. Or all they know to do is look for misspelled words and improper punctuation to be fixed.  I love this quote as a starting point.

Ray goes on to say that in order to be able to see what else is possible, writers have to see what's not there yet. And that involves envisioning. We must prompt students to ask themselves about things they have seen and read in their lives that might lead to possibilities for the piece they are writing. What story does their piece remind them of? And what does that story do that their piece doesn't? Studying the craft of writing makes better writers.

Revision is more about reflection and possibilities than improvement or correction.

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