How many papers have we written in this lifetime?
Even for those of us not in communication-centric fields, the dog pile of essays is massive.
After so much work, I think we grasp the concept of writing, right?
But do we know much about revision?
I don’t believe editing is something we as busy and willful students fully grasp.
Mostly it’s just glancing over an essay for typos and then launching it into the universe three minutes before the deadline.
That quick once-over, by the way, is not what revision is.
This may sound snobbish, but in my experience I’ve learned that the best writing is not formed from the rudiments of a person’s rawest ideas: it is experience refined through fire to glitter as gold to the literary parched masses.
It’s been edited.
It’s crafted with intention and purpose like a ladder.
Without carefully spacing out the rungs and establishing a sturdy foundation, no one can climb it.
Similarly, if you don’t fashion your writing with cohesive logic, no one can understand you.
Though, the writing process itself is messy.
It might take more than one draft to craft a real, convincing argument.
For some, it might take more than two to say anything cohesive at all.
This is where real editing skills would be paramount.
But we don’t just need a refresh of comma-placement.
What we need is an editing class.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Not another gen-ed to suffer through and pay for!
Just hear me out.
I find mandatory general education courses just as insufferable as the next student, especially when they’re irrelevant to my major.
But if we replaced an English course that would’ve focused primarily on writing with a course strictly on revision, it would sharpen our communication skills regardless of one’s major.
For instance, I remember starting my freshman year with English 101 and moving to English 102 by second semester. Both of these were writing/reading intensive courses that required boatloads of papers. Assignments were graded and returned with criticism. These criticisms would’ve been instrumental to the assignment that – if it was edited – could’ve turned a C into an A.
Hindsight is 20/20, right?
Imagine taking all that writing from English 101 and getting the chance to redo it.
Imagine learning to refine old mistakes into poignant speech.
Imagine harnessing the persuasive capabilities of a silver-tongued fox from a child’s fairytale.
Children’s fairy-tales always seem to have persuasive talking animals…
But I digress.
We could do ourselves – and the world – a great service by offering our best selves in terms of written communication.
Our most honest thoughts could be transposed into life-changing arguments that know how to reach a target audience. To truly touch a generation.
Or to a more relevant extent, we could pass college.
We need to be trained in the art of revision so that we as human beings can look up from our rough, first drafts and meet a need on the other side… or just graduate.
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