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 Project, Figment 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.
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?