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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Changing Course

by Lisa Bullard

6_4DashboardMy family didn’t camp when I was a kid. So a few years ago, when a friend asked if I wanted to go on a camping trip to Arkansas, I said, “Sure. I’ve always wanted to try camping. It will be fun.” I assumed there would be lots of yummy toasted-marshmallow moments.

You know what they say about making assumptions, right?

I’m not sure exactly when I realized that “fun” was the wrong word. Maybe it was when that park ranger warned us about copperheads. Maybe it was the restrooms. Maybe it was the torrential downpours. Maybe it was the wood ticks. Maybe it was the murderous screams of warring raccoons.

Or maybe it was that nearby baby shrieking all night. I’m with you, baby: I wanted to shriek, too. Within 48 hours I was begging my camping comrades to completely change all our travel plans.

But changing course on a writing road trip isn’t that simple. When it’s time to revise our writing, it’s hard to give up our original assumptions about the piece. Those original ideas fueled us through the first draft, so they must be good enough to stick with, right?

Wrong. Re-visioning our work is crucial to the writing process. A true writer is a re-writer.

Revising is also, in my experience, the part of the writing process kids most resist.

There’s no one easy way to teach students the value of revising. But the same “What if?” question I described as a great idea-generator in my last post (“Pulled Over”) is also an invaluable revision tool. You can download some examples here of how students can use it to revise.

“What if?” may show your students that changing course allows them to journey through their piece again in a different—but maybe even more satisfying—way.


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