Image from NWP.org

Yesterday was the 3rd annual National Day on Writing in the USA. It is a day established by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). I probably would not have known about it if it weren’t for Twitter. The NY Times Learning Network joined up with The National Writing ProjectFigment and Edutopia to create various ways for people to participate in this year’s theme: Why I Write. As I follow the NY Times Learning Network on Twitter, I was receiving information about the hashtag #whyIwrite leading up to the big day. After I read more about the event I was hooked. I was eager to see how people would respond and I was not disappointed, in fact I was amazed. The responses from all around the world were truly remarkable. The NYT Learning Network reported that at times they were receiving 50 tweets per minute. I watched the Twitter stream all day and I felt so inspired and in awe by the diversity of perspectives. As the day progressed the intensity and frequency of the tweets escalated. You could feel the energy spreading and building.

I followed #whyIwrite faithfully throughout the day and I was intrigued by how connected I felt to the experience. I really felt like I was a part of it. Although I shared my thoughts in a tweet and retweeted some others, for the most part I just read and read and read. So how could that make me feel connected? I think perhaps it was because I could relate to many of the ideas people were sharing and I was drawn to the tone of people’s ideas-humourous, touching, thoughtful, personal and deep. But above all I think I felt connected to the universality of writing. There are countless reasons why we write: to have a voice, to heal, the rejoice, to learn, to share, to process, to challenge, to reflect, to cope, to understand, to remember, to connect, to grow. But at the core these are all connected to being human. We write to connect to our ourselves and to others and this theme rose to the surface thanks to one seemingly simple hashtag.

As the tweets were flying by me I was trying to find ways to hold onto it all. I was using Delicious to bookmark the blog links, clicking the “favourites” star on tweets, and even copying and pasting some tweets into Evernote. I had many tools on the go but the information was still fragmented. I was looking for a way to unify everything and house it all in one place. Then I remembered a tool called Storify that allows you to create stories from social media. I have wanted to explore it for some time now and I am drawn the way it can help to capture and collect social media around a theme. A tool for sensemaking.

Click on this image to see my Storify

I really loved creating my #whyIwrite Storify and it may perhaps be my new favourite tool and toy. The only glitch I again experienced is embedding it into my post so I had to get creative with a screenshot and a link. Is it time for a WordPress.org account?

I plan to further explore the topic of “Why I Write” in my next blog post as I would really like to investigate the role of social media and online tools in promoting writing.

I’d love to know: Why do you write?


8 thoughts on “#whyIwrite

  1. This is really beautiful, Tannis. I, too, was mesmerized by the storm of tweets coming through. At points, it was difficult to keep up with the reading, as 30 or more tweets would come through in a span of seconds! Talk about engaging and connecting the on-line community! Why? Writing has become such a part of our journey as a human race … and … for all the magical reasons you’ve expressed above. For each of us, it is different. But, I could relate to SO many of the comments being posted. Your tweet “Because when I write my voice is stronger, clearer and braver than when I speak. #whyIwrite” really spoke to me. You expressed your thoughts so much more succinctly than I could have. It is hard to believe that this technology was NOT in existence when I first began teaching. It’s ALSO hard to believe that, once upon a time, we relied so heavily upon “oral history”! For me, writing is the easiest way to express my thoughts and feelings. It sounds strange to say that. I teach. I interact with my students, their parents, my colleagues daily. I love talking. Public speaking, though, is a different matter! With writing, it just feels to natural for me. Ideas flow, my voice shines though, especially when I feel passionate about what I am writing about. You are right … I ALSO feel “stronger, clearer and braver” when I write. What a GREAT post. Thank you for continuing to inspire me!

  2. Great post – I write to tell my story…our world is all about people and their stories so we write!!!

    Storify is a great tool – I’m glad it worked for you…amazing the number of these tools that make digital life so much easier.

    • Mick, have you watched Wade Davis’ TED talk “Cultures at the Far Edge of the World”? http://bit.ly/GRvB7 It is amazing! One quote that really resonated with me: “Storytelling can change the world.” Your comment fits perfectly. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Pingback: reading in a rhizome « onepercentyellow

  4. This is really great, Tannis. The #whyiwrite project sounds great, and I love that it captured you in this way. And Storify is such a great tool for capturing something like this.

    I wanted to draw your attention to another tool found at: http://ifttt.com/ It’s basically a tool that allows you to bridge together data from several tools. I’ve been using it for a while, and Shareski recently blogged about the possibilities: http://ideasandthoughts.org/2011/10/25/ifttt-meme/

    Your search for a way to capture this reminded me of this tool so I thought I would share.

    • Thank you, Alec for sharing this tool. I am grateful that Dean shared how he is using it as that always helps me get my head around something new to me. It is so helpful to see ways it can be put into practice. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: A Journey Paved with Stories | Aspiring to Higher Tech

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