Writer’s Workshop is a time for scaffolding students. Publishing in the writing process can be overwhelming when it involves re-writing multiple times. In the beginning, mom or teacher does a lot to help this process, and then gradually, bit by bit, the student does more and more of the writing. The publishing step of the writer’s process is the most rewarding, but getting there can feel cumbersome.
One huge obstacle for emergent writers is their trouble with basic conventions. Spelling, handwriting, and punctuation tend to get in the way of their great stories. That is one really important reason that revising and editing are two separate steps in the writing process.
Revising involves making changes in the content: adding description, rewording, reorganizing, or making something either more fleshed out or more concise.
Editing is a separate thing that covers the conventions, all those tricky spelling and punctuation mistakes. Full editing comes WAY down the writing road.
Avoiding Getting Bogged Down
Kids sometimes get bogged down in all the steps and start writing shorter stories just to avoid having so much to correct. That’s a real shame. The goal is for stories to flow freely out of them. Once that’s done, every author needs to revise and edit. For a new writer though, it can feel like a bit much.
One easy way to help kids as they begin to write is to offer to be their publisher. Even famous authors have publishers who edit and make corrections, and then produce their typed stories. Once the story is written and revisions have been made, take over as editor for kids. Fix up those mistakes and type it out in book format so they can then illustrate their work. I like to sit down with them and have them pencil correct at least some of their mistakes as we talk about them and I teach them the correct way, but I try to never make it so overwhelming that it’s positively discouraging. If you only point out the bad and the mistakes they will likely begin to identify themselves as bad writers. It can also just feel like too much re-writing for a kid who is still working hard on getting the mechanics of writing. Take out this cumbersome step and they’ll feel free to focus on the story instead of worrying about how many more times they’ll have to re-write to fix their mistakes.
The older kids get, the more able they’ll be to recognize their mistakes and do more of their own corrections and typing. Ease will come in editing and publishing in the writing process with time. Start by doing it for them, then do it with them by your side so you can model it, and eventually give them more and more of the tasks. Gradual development over the years will teach them the writing process and all those nasty conventions. Remember that writer’s workshop is a time for growth, not perfection.