#SOL18: Process? Product?

“I don’t know what to write.”

Is that a struggle with the process?

I don’t have a beginning point, a topic, an idea, or even a glimmer of a slice growing in my brain.

I don’t have an outline.

I don’t have a plan (other than to publish a blog post).

I don’t have a graphic organizer to fill in the blanks.

Is that a struggle with the product?

I know I need to produce a blog post,

but I had no idea percolating in my brain as I fell asleep.

No inspiration emerges from my sleep-heavy brain

as I peruse  at least a dozen slices this morning.

And where, oh where, is my idea file?

You know, that list of, “ideas and topics” to write about!

Or my heart map?

The one with pretty colors and fancy word art,

that writing notebook,

Out in my work bag, in my car, in the freezing cold.

And I, snug in the house, barefoot, sipping my coffee.

“No words appear on the page (or screen). “

Is that a struggle with the process?

Just write.


Rearrange and fix it later.

Begin something.

The clock is ticking.

Rewrite the prompt.

Repeat the quote.

Reread last week’s post.

And still, no words appear on the page (or screen).

Is that a struggle with the product?

Am I really still stuck on “What should I write?”

Or is it fear that what I write will be unworthy?

My words will remain unread.

My thoughts will not be validated by comments.

Inside, my brain is cluttered with ideas, words, phrases,

but, YET, no clear starting point emerges.

What word should be first?

“My grammar and the conventions of language are atrocious.”

Is that a struggle with the process?

Should I not have words on the page before I worry about spelling, subject/verb agreement, and writing a post with the same verb tense?

After all, wordpress will give me red underlines when it doesn’t like my draft, my first revision, my second go, or my “Oh, silly Word press, Now are you happy?

Is that a struggle with the product?

As soon as a red line appears under a word, do I respond and immediately fix it?

Or do I let my fingers remain ever moving across the keyboard

in an attempt to quickly capture some words, any words,

because after all, in my mind . . .

I’ve missed my personal deadline to post my blog.

Lack of 



Grammar  and the Conventions of Language

Is an intervention in order? 

Do I need a writing intervention? 

I’m dying here.  I don’t know what to write.  My mind is fuzzy. More coffee please.

What do you notice when a student is sitting quietly and not producing “writing”?  What do you name? 

How do you use your own writing (process or product) to gently nudge the writer onward?  

Just curious . . .

Is it black or white?  Process or Product?

Or are there shades of gray?  Shades of both?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

10 responses

  1. This is why I love the slice of life writing… it makes me aware of some of the struggles that I have when writing regularly that our students most likely encounter as well.

    1. Christine,
      YES! And also so important to KNOW how we get out of those tough spots . . . Not that it’s the same as what our students will use. But to have an idea as well as some empathy! So important for teachers of reading and writing to also be readers and writers!!! ❤

  2. Yes, this is a struggle for student writers as well as seasoned writers. I sometimes panic when I think of the March Challenge looming in the not to distant future. I sometimes suggested to my students, and I still do this, to write a list of things they don’t want to write about. This is still writing and you never know what idea it just may spark.

    1. Lists are sometimes some of the most purposeful writing I do. (However, sometimes I like to enter all the little, tiny tasks so it appears that I am getting a lot done! LOL

  3. So many choices, so little time, Fran! I’ve added your post to my Padlet of ideas. So much to mine from your words, as always. Here’s the link if you want to check it out! https://padlet.com/wymanc/fhn5xjs2w5w8

    1. Nice padlet, Christie, some great ideas for the March Challenge! I’ve been thinking alot about the characteristics of writers – what would we measure and why?

      Lack of production, poor conventions, and formats always seem to be the first concerns . . .

  4. Tonight I sliced while my 9 year old completed his assignment. I wrote following the directions for his assignment, mostly. It was an interesting process. I noted how much we used talk to process what we needed to do. I wonder where talk comes into processing production, conventions, formats, all the parts really! Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

    1. Last week’s #TCRWP chat was about “Talk and Writers’ Workshop” and I believe that talk is helpful at every stage of the writing process. (And, yes, too much talk may also be a problem.)
      But what if a student recorded their ideas. Listened to the recording. Added two more details. Re-recorded. Listened again. And then now wrote. What if that process improved the quality of work? What a good use of time and devices if available (IMO)!

      You are welcome! So much to consider here!

  5. The struggle is real. The distractions are real. The obsession with product is real. The grayness is real.

    1. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Both volume and process need more attention! ❤

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