Some time ago, I posed a question at the WriteShop Facebook page: What is YOUR favorite part of the writing process—brainstorming for ideas, writing the rough draft, or self-editing and revising? The responses were pretty evenly divided.
- Rough draft….I get to be sloppy!!!!!
- Rough draft – definitely
- A completely finished final draft!
- My favorite part is self-editing and revising.
- I like the editing and revising part, the polishing and refining. I have such a hard time with the idea of a “completely finished” final draft…. I have to work on that perfectionism and being able to say “This is good, and ‘good’ is good enough.”
- I love the creativity and freedom of the rough draft.
- Definitely the brainstorming and research! I could do it for weeks!
Teens can weigh in, too. Here are some things you can chat about together!
Brainstorming is a lot like spilling out a box of puzzle pieces, finding the edges, and hunting for a few particular colors and shapes. All the parts are there, and you’re working on the framework and key elements, but the main picture is still a big blank.
Those who favor the brainstorming stage love watching an idea begin to emerge. They find joy in the initial bursts of inspiration and creativity, knowing they can sort and organize later.
During brainstorming, you toss out ideas—all kinds of ideas! Some will end up sticking while others will fall by the wayside. Ample brainstorming helps reduce writer’s block by giving you something to say when it’s time to write.
The rough draft is the favorite of writers of any age who enjoy watching their story or essay begin to unfold. They love getting started. They love the imperfection. They love playing with ideas and watching them take shape. And they love knowing their best work is yet to come!
This is the time to begin herding those random brainstorming ideas into formation. I like to call the first draft a “sloppy copy” because it gives the writer permission not to be perfect the first time.
Karen emailed me to share how this revolutionized their homeschool writing:
My son hates writing assignments … because he puts so much pressure on himself to be perfect. The phrase “sloppy copy” instead of “first draft” is the breakthrough we’ve been needing. In his mind the assignment is now to make a sloppy copy; therefore he HAS to include errors or he would not be fulfilling the assignment.
Could this concept help your middle or high school student get over a hump?
Self-Editing and Revising
Like a stream, writing is a fluid entity. Replacing a word, altering a phrase, moving a sentence—these are like adding rocks or removing log jams to redirect the flow of the stream. With even the simplest, most subtle movement, a writer has the ability to alter the direction of the composition. It’s a powerful, beautiful thing.
Editing and revising happen to be my favorite part of the writing process. I just love watching my early ideas find their groove!
Today, why not ask your teens this same question? Their answers might surprise you!