Why redraft?

 

Some teachers object to the idea of asking students to redraft work on the basis that it can be boring and repetitious, holding students back from new material and ideas. Used mechanically and without flexibility, redrafting certainly can be experienced in this way, and could actually be seen to work against the valuing of explorative and generative writing for learning.

But in ‘writing to learn’, students need also to ‘learn to write’ in recognised genres and for particular audiences. There is then considerable benefit in students learning, through experience, that an effective piece of public writing sometimes needs considerable work if it is to yield rewards. A terrible essay may be a good first draft. And a good first draft may be the basis for a great essay. Giving opportunities for redrafting allows students to learn consciously about the crafting of writing and of thought; it lets them experience improvement and see how this comes about.

Redrafting implies working on writing in order to meet your original writing goal more closely. An allied notion is rewriting, where the student may choose, or be directed, to write the second piece in a different form altogether – changing an essay into a dialogue for example. For students whose first draft is very good, having to meet the fresh demands of a new form and/or audience can provide the challenge that doing a redraft would not. The rewriting option thus provides a useful way to differentiate amongst a group of students, whilst still meeting the overall aim of getting them involved in the craft - and graft - of writing.