Thomas Edison said that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This rule certainly holds true when it comes to writing. The reality is that most professional writers spend the vast majority of their time editing an initial draft, bringing it to a final, polished product.

When it comes to writing instruction, it would be difficult to find an area more challenging than teaching students the fine art of editing. Often, students will dash off a very inspired first draft and declare their work “Perfect!.” The thrill of creating the initial first draft may be gone, but much work is still needed to refine the work. Convincing students of the need for editing can be a tremendous challenge.

Certainly, the ability to generate ideas and express them in words (writing fluency) is a fundamental part of the writing process. However, enabling students to hone their skills to take their writing to the next level of refinement through editing is of vital importance.

To many students, editing means correcting spelling, capitalization, grammar and other technical aspects of the conventions of writing.

Editing is much more than this.

Editing involves cutting, moving, adding, and rearranging text to make the writing more effective in conveying the intentions of the author whatever the genre of writing may be. The ability to critically analyze one’s own work takes specific skills which are incredibly challenging to teach. Throw in the logistical challenges of helping thirty or more students in a class with editing a wide range of idiosyncratic writing styles, and logistical complications increase greatly.

In developing COW, we’ve recognized the importance of editing in the writing process. With this in mind, we have created the “Edit Mode” within COW, giving students and teachers a valuable tool for refining their writing.

Stay tuned for a future post in which we’ll show you how to make the most of COW’s “Edit Mode” in teaching those elusive skills of editing, while keeping your students motivated to improve their writing.