#SOL15: Day 16, Process, Practice, Product

Our culture is dominated by end results, the product. I struggle with this.

Reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones has pushed me to pay more attention to the process. This excerpt from the chapter entitled “Composting,” takes my breath away.


Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies…we collect experiences, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this doesn’t come all at once. It takes time.

The last two lines not only speak to my writer’s mind, but to my sense as a learner. We need to honor and cultivate the process, the “composting” that builds and sustains learning. Respecting all aspects of the process, allowing time.

We need to place value not only on our students’ process, but our process as learners. Acknowledging that it’s ongoing, irritative and adjusting, continually composting.

We have our students for a very short time; our job is to guide them on their journey as learners as they add to our learning as educators.

The learning happens over time. Variations and aberrations exist; should be identified, studied and held up not as an indictment, but an opportunity.  Pathways to better teaching and learning can grow out of studying the process.

Goldberg continues:

Understanding the process cultvates patience and produces less anxiety. We aren’t running everything, not even the writing we do. At the same time, we must keep practicing.


Process, Product

Pages read; lines written

books considered, attempted, completed,

and abandoned.

Questions asked

and answered.

Notes, sketches, plans, decisions,


What I like,

who I am,

comments received, revision decisions,

A process,

a practice,

a product, ever changing


Thank you, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here. 11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

15 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 16, Process, Practice, Product

  1. What a great start for my Monday ~
    Love this “our job is to guide them on their journey as learners as they add to our learning as educators.” It’s always about the learning for both of us! ❤

  2. Oh Natalie Goldberg!!! That is a book that I LOVE!!! I first read it in college. Hearing her words brings me back to that time in my life!!! I love that a book that was written almost THIRTY years ago, still resonates today! Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I love this book as well and the quotes you pulled out are my favorites. Recognizing the process is such a huge part of mindfulness as well. We can’t reach our destination if we don’t travel those long roads. Keep traveling and enjoying that process!


  4. One of my favorite books on writing. I must dust it off. You are an example of a truly reflective teacher, always trying new things, questioning, and revising. The joy is in the process.

  5. The product is a result of the process and practice applied, that product continues to change as we refine our process during the practice. These terms are so intertwined, one leads to another. I love your poem, particularly the words “ever changing.”

  6. Natalie Goldberg was on my summer reading list. Her books ask to be read again and again. The “ever changing me” is interesting to get to know to through the writing.

  7. Loved that book and all her early works. But I did get a chance to participate in one of her workshops for a week in Taos, NM and she was so amazingly full of herself. Better to stick with her books 🙂

  8. I love the book, & her Wild Minds, too, is good. Thanks for reminding me about her penchant for work & process. I am loving my students blogging because the daily writing is just that, a process. Oh I can see there’s a misspelled word or two, more they might say to expand one sentence, but you know, they are, on their own, without anything from me. We are talking about stretching the moment in class, briefly. But they are on their own, and they’re doing great. I have time to show about other parts of writing, like feature non-fiction, personal essays, but the time, alone, I think they like it a lot!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s