Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing an essay is not like preparing a McDonald’s hamburger, but it can provide a feast instead of just a quick meal

Jim Schaefer

As I work with my college writing students, I have found it helpful to remind them of what Natalie Goldberg said about composing in her book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer within. Many writing scholars are familiar with Goldberg’s interest in blending Zen meditation and writing practice, and I also have found it useful to reflect on the importance of place and memory, time and experience in creating written work.

In her book, Goldberg challenges the reader to regard the process of writing as being more complex than simply preparing a fast-food item like a hamburger. Writing, she said, is more like a journey of discovery. When we start our journey, we are not totally sure of where we are going nor of how quickly we will arrive. Unlike the McDonald’s cook, who must quickly complete a hamburger of a specific weight and dimensions within a given period of time, the writer must follow where the material leads him or her in whatever time that it takes. The end result may be magnificent, function in a completely different way than first intended, and take much, much longer than originally planned. Indeed, instead of a quick simple meal, the writer may provide a wonderful feast that is much more satisfying.

Works Cited
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer within (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Shambala, 2005.

No comments: