Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hacking My Kid's Process (And What is Hacking, Really??)


My daughter Jessi has always been a creative person, in all of the best senses of the word. One of her biggest strengths is her willingness to show vulnerability in her work, whether the medium is painting, writing, performing, or making videos.  

When I took the National Writing Project grad class, that was one of the biggest lessons I learned - good writing is like "opening a vein" (original source in dispute).  You have to be willing to share your authentic self.  

About 5 years ago, at age 19, my daughter made this "People Project" video.  I loved it then and have loved it since.  It inspires me. It makes me proud.  It makes me think, and it makes me want to be better at "making."  And it is her, authentically.

In the spirit of #CLMOOC, I wanted to use Jessi's video as the basis for my Hacking Your Writing project.  This was daunting.  I was confident that I could not come anywhere near her creativity re-create the depth or the artistry that she had been able to demonstrate, nor could I do it with the raw intensity of a 19-year old.  But I wanted the challenge!

"Hack #1"
For my first attempt to hack her work, I used WeVideo.  I approached it with the intent that I would not obsess over trying to make it look perfect.  In the past, I would have made myself LOONY over it spent several days on such a project.  This time, I gave myself three hours, and this was the result.  CLMOOC-ers Kim Douillard and Shannon Falkner have both mentioned how putting constraints on our work can help our creative process, and it definitely helped me to actually get something accomplished move forward.  I was happy with the end product.

+Terry Elliot and his #flailer ideas made me really wonder - had I really hacked her video? Or just made a crappy version? Granted, I put my own spin on it, and added a silliness that fits who I am and changed the emotional content.  But hacking?  More like a remix, I think.

So - I hacked my hack.  And this time, it felt like it was actually worthwhile more authentically a hack - "Ahhhh, so this is what hacking feels like."  Rather than just making a crappy different version of what my daughter had done, this felt like I had hacked my own work, which had been inspired by her version.  

"Hack #2"

Why, for me, did version 2 feel more like hacking?  It was nonlinear, and I had less control over the content (which for me, as a perfectionist,  is subversive), and there was a randomness about it which I loved but would never have come up with on my own.  The message and intent were even more unclear.  I liked that.  Granted, it took an app to make this happen, but I learned from it.

Which version did you like better?  Was either one a "hack"?  What do you think?

Through this, I rediscovered the beauty of hacking: that your end product is something that could never have existed without its original source.  SO - the better the source, the better the potential hack?  Another question to think about!

Thanks to everyone for the inspiration!   #butstillflailing


  1. I like the randomness of the third one; it seems like it is your video, expresses you more than the first "hack". I also love that you wrote about the whole process and the thoughts you had in making the videos.

  2. Hey Susan, I agree the 3rd version is the hacked version of the 2nd version. And, by the way, practice makes perfect in everything, so maybe we all need to practice our "hacking"! Thanks for sharing and for making me think more deeply.

  3. Wow, i loved reading this, and my iPad won't even display the video - your text was so engaging I kept reading anyway! Will watch the videos as soon as i can get to a PC!

  4. I know the title is "Hacking My Kid's Process," but it sounds like the magic happened when you hacked your own. I am even more convinced (influenced by Terry's thoughts on hacking here: ) that when it comes to writing, it's the processes & practices that are hacked, not the products.

  5. I agree with you, Anonymous! :)