A Note On Revision: Turn Your Thoughts Into Sentences

There is something I’ve noticed with some student writing over the past couple of weeks that I wanted to address in this week’s post.

Not everyone approaches writing in the same way. Some like to plan and outline days in advance and write with as much precision as possible. Others like to let it flow and bang out an essay in just a few hours. Whatever your method or approach to the written word, there should be one process that is universally the same for all writers: revision.


The problem with the free-flowing method I just described is that while it can be beneficial for some young writers to get the ideas out of their head and onto paper before they vanish, the final product is far from what one could call “complete”. It may be a full five-paragraph essay, but that writing is often made up strictly of “thoughts”, by which I mean compelling but incomplete fragments that often lack flow or connection to the deeper message of our writing, or “thesis” if we are looking at things from an academic point of view. These “thoughts” as they exist don’t serve to prove their point and therefore lead to longer writing,  but ultimately weaker writing as a result.

This is where the revision process becomes extremely important. I have tried to teach students never to undervalue revision. Every part of the process, from restructuring arguments and ideas to proofreading for grammar and fluidity are all important in turning your jumble of “thoughts” into actual “sentences” and “arguments”, thereby improving your writing as a whole.


Fortunately, most of us are editors at heart. This is why the crippling “writer’s block” exists: our left-brained tendencies toward logic and sense end up blocking us from reaching for the creativity and elevated thought associated with the right side of our brain. This is what makes it sometimes difficult to get our ideas down on paper. This is exactly why the “excessive planner” I described above over-prepares to write their essay; they are terrified they won’t have anything to say, or worse, won’t know the right way to say it.

The truth is simple: there is no right way of saying anything. The beauty of writing is how subjective it can be. As long as we are able to support it well, we can argue anything we wish, and people can either agree or disagree with our claims if they wish. At the same time, subjectivity is also the cause of much of the agony associated with writing. The uncertainty of “no right way” makes some people wary of the whole art of writing, which is why so many people claim they are not “good writers”.

If it’s the case that there is no right way of saying anything, then it is equally true that there is no such thing as a “good writer” or a “bad writer”. In the end, we are all just writers. But the goal of creating effective writing is to treat revision as a totally objective art form. In order to do this, you, the writer, need to be aware of when you are using thoughts to convey your ideas vs. sentences.

The difference between the two is objective.  As I said before, thoughts in their nature will be interesting, but incomplete and unrealized. Sentences on the other hand are, as they suggest, complete thoughts that all have some connection to your overarching purpose, thesis, or argument. The job of a good editor is to realize whether or not what you are writing is necessary and effective. If the sentence you have written is neither necessary or effective towards answering any questions, get rid of it. When you only have so many pages to work with, every word should count towards your final goal.


By the time you have finished strengthening what works and omitting the things that don’t, the final step is proofreading. I highly encourage writers to read their work our loud, because if it makes sense when you’re saying it, it will make sense on the page. This will also help you recognize if you are repeating any phrases or need to vary your word choice to improve the flow of your writing. There are so many benefits to this practice, be they grammatical or organizational.

As a writer myself, these are the things that I find helpful when it comes to revision of my own work. In the end, not only do I have a better piece of writing, but I also feel like I have more ownership over my writing than I did before. If you follow these methods, I guarantee you’ll feel this way too, and you’ll have a good grade to match it!

Now, if you’ll excuse me now, time to edit this post before I publish. Hope I didn’t miss any pronouns or articles in here somewhere.

 

-Mr. S.

Follow the Writing Lab on Instagram and Twitter

New for the 2017-18 school-year, the SDA Writing Lab is now on Instagram and Twitter!

This will be a beneficial way for you guys to get updates on everything going on in the center, including any changes to our schedule and any writing tips we can share with everyone. Not only that, but it will be an awesome way for us to promote the Lab and help stay in the loop in all campus activities, so help us spread the word!

follow us on Twitter @SDAWritingLab and Insta @sdawritinglab and be on the lookout for updates, pictures, tips and other things to come!

Mr. S.

The Writing Lab is Back in Business!

Salutations, SDA!

I am excited to announce that the SDA Writing Lab is open for business for the 2017-2018 school year!

In case you weren’t aware of our existence, the Writing Lab is a free (yes free!) on-campus writing tutoring service set up by the SDA Parent Foundation to assist SDA students with all of your writing needs, including but not limited to college essays, analytical writing, research papers and reports, and even creative writing. If you write it, we can help revise it! Even if you haven’t written it yet, you can always book an appointment to brainstorm ideas, make notes, and create outlines for your work. And did I mention it’s totally free??

Already thousands are lining up at my office door for an appointment, so make sure that you book yours soon! (Okay, not literally thousands, but still, book an appointment if you need assistance!)

HOW TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT

To book an appointment, please visit out website’s “Make an Appointment” page HERE. You will find all the information you need to book an appointment through our Google Calendar. All Writing Lab sign-ups will be conducted online now, so make sure you have visited the website and made your appointment official!

Our hours for this semester are as follows:

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8am-12pm, 1pm-3:30pm

Appointment typically last between 10-30 min per session. However, if you feel that you need more time with me, you can book up to two half-hour sessions daily, so up to a 60-minute session.

Though it is not required, please consider dropping off or sending in the assignment you wish to work on during our sessions at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment. That way I can get a head start on reading your work before you come in so our time during sessions will be much more efficient.  You can spend less time wait for a tutor to read your paper and more time learning about what make you a great writer!

The most important thing for students to know is that I am here to help YOU become a better writer. The tutoring process is a collaborative effort, so it is very important to me that you are able to feel comfortable having a conversation about your writing. Therefore, I will work to make our sessions as laid-back as possible so that anytime you have a question, you can always feel free to ask. As I said, the tutor is there for YOU!

TEACHERS: SIGN UP FOR CLASSROOM VISITS

I’m happy to make time to visit your classes and help students one-on-one with their writing assignments or to conduct a presentation about a particular topic.

To book time with me, visit our Make An Appointment Page and book a time or if you’d like to book me for multiple periods, you can also shoot me an email at SDAWritingLab@sduhsd.net to sign up!

Teachers can also make appointments for students if they feel they need the extra help by making an appointment or sending an email.

THE WRITING LAB BLOG

As an added bonus for everyone, I will also be working on building the Writing Lab’s Blog with new posts and new articles about topic and information relevant to writing, analysis, thesis statements, screenplays, and everything in between!

Consider this an extra resource for your work or as something interesting to read in your spare time. I will try to vary the topics as much as possible to keep the blog fresh and exciting!

Students and teachers can check in every week for new posts or can subscribe to our blog if you also have a WordPress account.

OTHER QUESTIONS

If you have any other questions about the Writing Lab or any of the services we offer, please send us an email anytime at SDAWritingLab@sduhsd.net. We will do our best to answer your questions as soon as possible!

With that, all I have left to say is thank you to SDA and the Parent Foundation for making this possible! I am excited about the directions we can take things in the center this year and I look forward to working with students and faculty this school year!

Read. Write. Grow.

-Mr. S.