On Revision

There was an article a few years ago in New York Magazine on children’s self esteem. The premise was that children who are praised for things they don’t work for can become mentally paralyzed. “I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gifts.”
I was a natural test taker, because my parents read to me when I was very small. I easily excelled in school until homework became important. Then, I would ace the tests but still slack on the homework. I felt that my parents and teachers were proud of me when I did well, but my achievements were not sustainable over time, because I hadn’t learned to study effectively or use constructive criticism. I would do all work at the last minute instead of plugging away slow and steady, because I believed pulling off an adrenaline fueled B+ on something you know you didn’t try very hard at was better than spending weeks and weeks to get an A.
So now I am trying to learn how to use criticism and build muscles in my writing, to see it as a process rather than the kind of standardized test you can’t study for. It is working. (Thanks for your help, readers.)


Author: Emily

Writer/ Librarian

One thought on “On Revision”

  1. i can relate to much of this! i was an easy test taker and school came easily as a youngster. all the same, i did my homework until fifth grade, where my new best friend taught me that you didn’t really need to do everything (homework) all the time. and voila! i was still, really good at school- for awhile- in my case, i later became quite depressed and thankfully managed to graduate high school anyway. once i went back to school/college on my own, i finally found my own pace and schedule to studying. it’s always a bit surprising to me that i had to learn what sort of organization and pace worked for me. perhaps this is a result of the traditional public school model…

    great post & keep it up- enjoying reading about you flying into the mystery 😉

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