Digital Writing as Mode of Thinking

In my current “Writing Theory & Practice” course, we have been discussing the elusive notion of “voice” in writing. What makes a writerly voice distinct, audible, sincere, authentic? What makes a voice compelling? We have recognized that voice is connected to both embodiment and subjectivity. We have talked about the important link between voice and empowerment. We have acknowledged how hard it is to hone one’s writerly voice, as we reach for a kind of agility that allows us to shift our voices depending on audience or context.  

All of this to say that finding one’s voice in writing is a complex task, and one that has become more daunting as the tools of the trade have expanded. The connectivity of web-based networks and myriad digital applications have opened up vast new opportunities, formats, and audiences for writing. Digital writing has certainly evolved well beyond the basic word processing function. Blogs, texting, crowdsourced research, the hyperlink, and multimodal composition are now somewhat ubiquitous. Digital writing is not simply a matter of integrating new tools into an unchanged repertoire of writing processes. Rather, digital writing today is about the dramatic changes in the ecology of writing and communication — what it means to create, compose, and share. In short, digital writing is a mode of thinking.

Digiwrimo-header

With this change in ecology in mind, my students and I have decided to join Digital Writing Month. And, I would like to extend the invitation here to anyone who is interested in writing in the 21st century. Digital Writing Month (better known as #DigiWriMo) is a month-long writing challenge and collaborative adventure. This November, participants will work to redefine “writing” in the digital. We will not confine digital writing merely to words, but open up the possibilities of composition to transmedial embrace. To quote this year’s @DigiWriMo organizers @Bali_Maha, @dogtrax, and @NomadWarMachine:

Would you like to spend a month experimenting with new forms of writing, or even just focusing on writing goals you have for yourself, amongst a supportive community? Would you like an opportunity to get inspired by other digital writers, and learn about different forms of digital expression? Would you like to find collaborators for your digital projects?

Digital Writing Month is an open invitation for anyone who is interested in writing and its evolution in a digital context. Participants from all over the world are invited to take risks, to play and to explore creative forms of expression. #DigiWriMo participants will network and build community in the context of their writing. “They may conspire, co-author, cooperate, collude, or even compete.” The point is to experiment, to push our boundaries and create, and to locate our creations on the web, in relationship with other creations, other words and other authors. #DigiWriMo is also about building networks and community while creating an audience. There will be activities, online events, and contributions during each week of November to help and to inspire.

Four broad weekly themes are designed to push our creative faculties throughout this #DigiWriMo journey:

  1. Writing: The Shifting Notions of Writing;
  2. Visual: Using our Lens to Compose;
  3. Audio: The Story of Sound and Waves; and
  4. Transmedia: Pushing into the Edges of Stories.  

Because Digital Writing Month is an open networked experience, this means you can come and go as you please and contribute as you see fit.  

Writing is no longer a solitary undertaking. As my own  “Writing Theory & Practice” students continue to contemplate the task of “finding one’s voice” in writing, they have teamed up with  #DigiWriMo in order to broaden their own audience. They will pursue these questions publicly and share their reflections as true 21st century learners. And, they will engender further conversations as they conduct a twitter chat on the topic (Nov. 23 from 6-7p.m. EST with the hashtag #DigiWriMo). Please join us in building this dynamic, playful, and thoughtful learning community. Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. Let’s explore together as we envision a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

Banner image credit: Jonathan Gross