Monday, September 22, 2014


Revising Is a Layered Affair

The Revision Button:

In teaching writing, I’ve noticed that, early on, students feel if they can just get an assignment written, that means it’s done. Later, perhaps when we’re workshopping the papers in class, students will read their papers aloud and discover all sorts of snags or problems they could have corrected if they had just taken the time to reread beforehand. At this point, usually the revision button clicks on, and developing writers are more open to learning how to revise, edit, and proof.

Layers of Text:

What writers eventually discover is that revising is a many-layered affair. Even just a second reading of a paper or article typically turns up a number of surface-level corrections that need to be made. Later readings frequently turn up more subtle inconsistencies or incoherencies, even among experienced writers.

More Than One Draft:

On the surface level, perhaps we are weak in grammar or punctuation or maybe we just have multiple typos. We make those surface-level corrections and dutifully reread our new draft only to notice that certain logical connections between ideas are lacking or, perhaps, our ideas (as brilliant as they are) are not organized in a coherent fashion. This reworking of the paper may take us longer to accomplish. When these revisions are complete, we happily reread our paper only to discover nuances engendered by our word choices are now suspect. The words may not be specific enough or may simply be used incorrectly. So, another revision of the paper is needed.

A Layered Affair:

By now, the writer is beginning to accept that revision is, indeed, a layered affair. Every time one level of the paper is cleaned up, somehow that revision exposes problems on a more subtle level. Now, if someone is beginning to love writing, this process of refinement, of looking at one’s writing at subtler and subtler levels, becomes intriguing and creative. If writing is still felt to be a chore, then emerging writers may still be able see the practical value of revising as a means for improving their grade.

Click That Revision Button:

We hope for growth along the more creative avenue, but, either way, clicking on the revision button in a writer’s experience is a definite win-win.


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© Matthew Clausen |

Title: Layers of Sand





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