Talk Session: Digital Creative Writing

As a writing professor (both expository and creative writing) at an art and design college, I teach to an interesting population of makers, many of whom have been told at least once before they get to me that “it’s OK you can’t write, because you’re a ‘visual’ person.” Students who attend more traditionally academic four-year colleges generally expect that they will be expressing their knowledge acquisition and production through writing, but many students I work with do not. I do a lot of promoting the ideas of writing as thinking, as process, as making; IĀ ask students to consider their writing meaningful creative production worth sharing, and that it can be an artistic and design project as germane and challenging as work they do in their studio major-related courses.

In the past year I’ve been teaching a new class, “Project-Writing Studio,” an advanced writing workshop that offers the time, structure, support, and rigor it takes to complete an ambitious writing project they formulate on their own and “pitch” to the class on the first day. This is in many ways a traditional creative writing workshop, but for the kind of work the students are writing: Short films, ‘zines, illustrated books of poetry, graphic novels, storyboards for animated features, interactive fiction to be read online, short stories to broaden the content of a product-design website, and on. Through these projects, I’ve been introduced by my students to digital writing tools/platforms (Twine and iBooks Author most specifically) I hadn’t known existed, and had to consider how to talk about and teach to writing in these forms—especially how to take full creative advantage of the possibilities they offer in ways that are integrated into the project and help make meaning, rather than functioning marginally, as “bells and whistles.”

I will be able to share/demo several student projects, and discuss how the tool/platform informed the composition, revision, discussion of the writing. But as this is a talk session, this would just be a way to start conversation with others about the way digital writing and the forms it must be poured into can promote both creativity and critical thought about creative expression. I’d love to hear from THATCamp participants about other platforms that exist or can be adapted for digital creative writing, how writers can use them and readers access them; and how to address convention and reader expectation (a large set of considerations when shaping content) when teaching to writing in new platforms.

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