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Myth 4:

The best way to write is to wait, think, and worry until the last minute, then submit the first draft as a final draft.

Some Students' Reasoning: I know what to write but not how to write. I always procrastinate then get back a paper covered in red ink.

Some Professors' Reply: "I don't want to grade a first draft!"

Some Suggestions:

  1. Foster the writing process. Candance Clements explains that to write an analysis of a painting, students should begin their papers with "a precise description, . . . . move next to an analysis of its visual elements . . . . [and] conclude" on the work's relationship to Romanticism. She also refers to the process of writing: "allow time for preparing, drafting, and revising your paper." Again use checkpoints for various stages of writing.

  2. Teach the process of writing explicitly. Too many students still assume that writing is an act of transcription so one should think then write one perfect draft. Of course, it is very difficult to start writing with a perfect introduction. Students, therefore, sit before a computer, muttering and deleting one sentence then another, until midnight panic produces a last minute draft.

    Present Donald Murray's straightforward description of writing as a process of collecting, focusing, ordering, drafting, and revising. I stress that when a writer is struggling, it can be helpful to separate these tasks and to revert to an earlier one. Also recommended: William Stafford's frequently anthologized essay titled "A Way of Writing."

MINIMUM CLASS TIME: 15-30 minutes
CORRECTING TIME: may decrease