Drafts matter more when you write about complex ideas

This week, I’m participating in a workshop on teaching writing. It’s a part of a big initiative at Elon on improving writing on campus. I’m a nerd, so even though I’ve been teaching writing in a media context for 15 years, I’m actually kind of excited about finding out how different disciplines approach it.

There’s homework for those of us participating, which includes reading a book before the whole thing starts, which I am doing this morning. Fascinating point: People make more mechanical mistakes when they are dealing with tougher thinking. The book describes this as sentence structure breaking down, and cites studies from foreign language learning as well as English language composition studies as support.

That seems like one of those #obvious yet #notobvious findings. But it may imply that constructing and presenting your thoughts need to be separate processes in some way. At the very least, it’s pretty good evidence for the idea that multiple stages in writing are important.

Learn more:

This handout on revision from the University of North Carolina Writing Center promises “This handout will motivate you to revise your drafts and give you strategies to revise effectively.” I’ll leave it to you whether it succeeds.

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