I had the pleasure of sitting down with Shawna Harch, a local writer and member of the Reading Local community, and she was kind enough to share our conversation on the Reading Local site. Here’s a little bit of it:
RL) Can you talk about process vs. content? What’s the significance of cultivating a process?
DJ) I think we live in a highly content-driven society and it starts affecting us at a very young age. The focus is on the product, the final grade. When I teach at public schools, I tell students that it’s okay to make a mess. Rather than dictating a word count or a due date or a structure, I emphasize the drafting process. When I work with adults, I tell them they need to write 1,000 words to get 100 good ones.
I had a dream once that Hilary Clinton and I were at a conference and had to write a haiku. She insisted on writing the perfect haiku, and I was trying to convince her to write a mess. We went back and forth with battling philosophies.
I maintain you have to trust the mess and trust that you will work your way out of it. Most people become gifted writers over time, with practice. I think of Malcolm Gladwell’s “ten-thousand hour” rule. You have to put in those ten thousand hours. The more you trust process and the mess that comes, the faster you will arrive at the “right words,” if they even exist.
And here’s a link to the interview in its entirety.
Enjoy, and thanks for reading!