One of my favourites is his explanation of his writing process. He writes out that first draft quickly, puts it in a drawer and let it mellow before he returns to it. I wish I had known this in high school & university. Often I was tired of my essay after all that time, so I reviewed it a few times after the first draft and handed it in. If I had been organized enough and had done this one simple act, I could have written better, seen the holes in my arguments and found those grammar mistakes that my brain auto-corrected for me.
I decided I would try this with my Grade 7s.
Last week I bought new pencil crayons, created the Revising & Rainbow Editing sheet and gave them back their work.
Some wondered where their mark was. I explained that this was just their rough draft and I read them a few of Stephen King's words. I explained they needed time away from their work so they could see it with fresh eyes, so they could see their own mistakes. One student asked me if I did this with a piece I just found out was being published. "I absolutely did," I told them.
I sent them off into the room, to sit by themselves and read their piece out loud, quietly, so their ears could hear what they wrote, not just their brain interpreting the words on the page. It was amazing!
"Ms. Cole! I said the word note seven times in one paragraph!"
"Ms. Cole! I found sentences that have nothing to do with my main topic & crossed them out."
"Ms. Cole! I start sentences, don't finish them and move on to another sentence."
As I walked around the room, I could hear them talking to each other, asking what proper nouns were, asking if a comma came before a conjunction. They were on task, engaged & amazed.
Their pages are covered with colour, scribbles, lines and they were proud of themselves. They even treated the pencil crayons with great respect. I like this group of kids. They don't love reading or writing, but they are funny and smart. They are truly a lot of work, but this tactic truly engaged them and I hope they can keep this lesson in their heads and apply it later on.
Thank you, Stephen King!