Revision is such a foreign concept to so many. Why go back and re-look at something you just spent all that time looking at not too long ago? Why add words or rearrange ideas. Why oh why would you ever start from scratch? (Isn’t that going backwards!) Revision is the hardest thing to teach and the hardest thing to learn.
I should mention perhaps that I have a hard time with revision myself. I love playing with words, of course, and I love looking at things in a poetic way, it’s the cutting things out completely that’s my biggest struggle. I tend to say in 100 words what I could probably have said in 50. When it comes to teaching revision, I’ve tended to emphasize that creative side of revision more so than the tedious side (and then I wonder why my students are so quick to add, add, add, and so hesitant to cut).
I love the idea, though, that writers have a million chances to get it right. That’s my favorite part of revision. You don’t really find that sort of thinking in many places. There’s a freedom that comes with knowing that your first attempts at writing are really only beginnings, but the hardest part seems to be keeping this spirit alive while at the same time not falling into the ever present trap of never, ever finishing anything.
But that’s not the mindset that most students walk in with. The mindset I see most often is write everything down that happens to pop into your head in that moment of time, then walk away and never look back. I’m sure that mindset comes from somewhere, and schools probably carry much of the blame. Writing assignments that have to be completed in a day, and no real authentic writing taking place either at school or at home, are part of the problem, too.
It’s a struggle to unlearn the thinking that the first thing that comes out of your head is the best or that only you are the genius that can pen a novel in one day. In much the same way that so many don’t reflect on their experiences or their actions, so many don’t reflect on their writing.
P.S Of course this blog is unrevised and therefore perfect ;0)