Kristina Peterson is back to share her insights about writing, specifically revision – an important part of the writing process, a creative process. To read more from Kristina, visit her author page, by clicking her name. ~EMP
I had the distinct pleasure of taking a writing class this past summer with Tom Romano during which he emphasized the importance of the process of writing. Many of us would agree that the writing process in and of itself is a creative process, and I would venture to assert that the most forgotten or skipped part is the most creative. Revision. The “seeing again” of the piece. The place where the fun really begins.
You see, we all revise everyday. We revise our lesson plans constantly, our units often and our lives daily. Just yesterday afternoon I revised my drive home when I remembered to stop at the dry cleaners last minute. I didn’t always think this way. I used to be the teacher that assigned revision as homework. I would tell my kids to take their pieces home and add, delete or change their writing until they were happy with it. That was basically the extent of my experience, and my student’s experience, with revision. After taking Tom’s class, I now realize that my problem with revision was me. I didn’t see it as a necessary part of the writing process.
I now understand that revision is an ongoing process that literally means “to see again” or to look at something with fresh eyes. I see revision as a way to actually make my writing good: it’s a way of rethinking, reconsidering, reviewing, refining and reviving a piece of writing. I see revision as a tool to make choices in my writing. Because writing is a way of discovering what you want to say, and revision is a way of making it better.
Tips I have learned from Tom’s class: Write as much as I can the first time, with the door closed as Stephen King would say. Know that I am writing for myself and that no one will read this unless I want him or her to. Type up a draft and use internal revision. Read the draft out loud and revise as I go. Do not be afraid of cutting parts that sound terrible or are not needed. I also try to get a fresh set of eyes to look over my paper. Many times I find I know exactly what I am saying, but it doesn’t always come across that way to my readers.
Final thoughts: time and time again I find myself coming back to the same problem: How to I justify the type of writing I want to do with my kids? How do I find time to make writing meaningful to them? In a system that is driven by state scores and the ever-popular essay, I find this problem difficult to manage. While no one has ever been able to give me a clear answer to this dilemma, classes like this one have given me tools and strategies that I plan to employ next year. And if all else fails I will just do what I want to do and pretend it’s what they want me to do!