Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Revision & The One Draft Wonder

During my time as an undergrad, I used to be a one-draft wonder: up late with my body bent over the keyboard, cramming Lunchables and soda in my face until I reached the mandated page limit. I hadn't always been this way, but once I was trained to write a 5-paragraph essay in under 40 minutes in high school, I couldn't break the pattern of trading less time for less depth of thought. 

After all, why spend more than a few hours on a 5-page paper about the causes of the civil war, business trends, social justice pedagogy, or Shakespeare? What was there to gain?

He doesn't seem to know either.

Well, here's an answer: there is more to good writing than just hitting a page limit. 

I used to feel uncomfortable when a professor would tell the class, "Just say what you have to say," without giving us a mandated page limit. The reality is that when I focused on my topic, I revised more. Without a page limit, there was only the honest truth of what I wanted to address. And the more I enjoyed the subject of my work, the more I wanted to show depth of thought rather than just length. The result was both more clear and more concise.

Am I encouraging you to shirk your page limit? No, but I am encouraging you to think about revision as part of your work. Starting my papers just a few days earlier gave me time to think about my ideas and time to realize them fully. You owe it to yourself and to your ideas.

Have I dug deep enough yet?

Give yourself time for revision, and see it as a crucial step in your work. You'll appreciate your work more, and I'm sure that the benefit of that extra time will pay off when your teacher evaluates your work. 

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