Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Behind the Books: My Biggest Revision Secret Revealed

Back in 2011, I wrote a series of blog posts describing my writing process. I compiled them on pinterest, so it’s easy for educators to access them as a group and share them with students.

One of those posts described a step that I call “Let It Chill Out,” which basically means that I take time away from a manuscript after I complete the first draft. Lately, teachers have been showing a lot of interest in this step, so I’d like to spend a bit more time explaining why I think it’s so important for me—and for young writers.

Really, I’m no different from a younger writer. When I finish a draft, I think to myself: “Phew, am I ever glad to be done! I worked long and hard on this draft, and I think it’s pretty good. In fact, maybe it doesn’t need any revisions at all.”

If the voice in my head is saying: “It’s good enough. It’s good enough,” am I going to notice parts of the manuscript that need work? No way.

But if I take a break. If I spend two days or two weeks or even two months working on something else, I can come back to the first manuscript with fresh eyes and an open mind. In other words, I’m ready to revise. I’m ready to re-envision the writing.

Obviously, students can’t take a 2-month hiatus from every piece of writing they do, but why not let their writing chill during lunch and recess or over a weekend or during a week of school vacation? And wouldn’t it be great if, near the end of the school year, young writers could revisit a couple of pieces they wrote in September or October.
Not only would they be more open to making improvements, they could also see how much they’ve grown as writers during the school year. I think it’s worth a try.

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