During a college math class, I once took a test where I learned something. Yes, I learned something I while taking a test. The test asked me to explain the difference between two terms- it was subtle, but I did know the difference. The thing is, I hadn’t realized that subtle difference until the question brought it to my attention.
Writing makes us learn-sometimes by making us open a book and do research, and sometimes by pointing us in a direction we would never turn by ourselves. The reading and thinking we have to do to answer the question should result in leaps and bounds of learning.
But there’s more learning that can happen later. That’s the sneaky thing about writing- that precious learning moment can often happen in revision.
All that early thinking we did getting to the first draft is just the beginning. When we take a draft and consider its order and message, we get to ask ourselves questions. Does this answer the question? What does this say? Does it say anything else? How do these ideas connect to each other?
So while we can rewrite to clean up a draft or to get a better grade, remember to take a moment and consider what you could be learning during your revisions. You may be surprised.