At the beginning of the school year, when I’m introducing my students to writing, we review a few main topics. One of those topics is the writing process. What I notice, year after year, no matter what the class, is that 5th graders, as a whole, hate to edit and revise.
And I get it.
I totally understand their reluctance. Although, being their teacher, I am required by law (or at least my personal philosophy of teaching) to talk and talk about the importance of editing and revising. I tell them that their writing is never at its best the first time around. I show them the drafts of the first few pages of Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie to see that real life authors have to edit and revise. Every time they turn in a piece of writing, I look for the number of corrections or changes they made to their initial piece.
But in my head? In my head, I’m grinning (if not rolling my eyes at the words coming out of my mouth) because I have the same reluctance. I would much rather start a brand new piece of writing than go back to edit and revise one that is already written. Why? For the simple fact that it’s hard work!
Revising, in particular, takes a long time. It takes patience. And it also takes a different eye. I tell my students that when they are revising their own work, they need to try to look at it as a reader, not as the author of the piece. They have to step back and pretend they don’t have a vested interest in the writing. And that’s a really tough thing to do.
But you know what?
Around this time of year, late April, they’ve got it (well, most of them). I flip through the various parts of the writing process when a completed assignment is turned in, and I see rough drafts that have been colored with many editing corrections and revisions. The students’ writing is better for it, and I know that mine is, too.