Despite the move to all online teaching this semester and the challenges that come with it, I still love my job as a college English Professor! I absolutely enjoy being able to guide others in understanding the importance of being able to express themselves effectively in writing. However, next to teaching grammar, one of the things I’ve had the most difficult time in getting my students to understand is the importance of rough drafts.
When I assign papers, I require that students give me at least two rough drafts of every paper. Inevitably, at least one student will ask, “how do I come up with my second draft?” Many of them think it’s extra work and have no problem in letting me know they don’t want to do it. Some of them even let me know that they are so used to doing papers at the last minute that doing more than one draft is not an option.
When I explain to them the value of taking the time to re-read their papers and how it makes their writing better, they remain skeptical. In some instances, I’ve even showed them multiple drafts of my own writing projects so they realize that I’m not giving them advice that I myself don’t follow. They complain but by the end of every semester, many appreciate how this step has improved their writing. It takes extra time but going through the second or third or fourth draft also helps them find mistakes that they may have missed in the first draft.
Lately, God has been schooling me on this same principle of the value of do-over. In the past 6 months, I have spent much time reevaluating so many areas of my life that I thought were okay. Things that I have done routinely that offered what I thought were good results are no longer bringing that same sense of satisfaction that they once did. For example, I thought I was doing good by only eating one biscuit. But my health improved tremendously when I learned how to make them healthy with coconut flour or gave up biscuits altogether.
Re-thinking my attitudes toward certain people and situations has also allowed me to develop a healthier and more balanced life perspective. I’ve been getting acceptable results but what I’m missing out on is the “great” that Ephesians 3:20 promises: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
It might be worth it to see how much you can change your life by praying more, seeking God’s direction more, and trusting more in his promises. Like my students, I’ve had to learn that having a do-over doesn’t mean that it was wrong the first time…but it does acknowledge that there are areas that can be improved. You can go from good to great in no time!
Shewanda Riley is the author of the Essence best-seller “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose after a Relationship ends.” She can be reached at [email protected], or on twitter @shewanda.