Hacking Our Writing

All, CLMOOC, Teaching, Technology, Writing

Praise To The Teacher WriterThe Making Learning Connected experience has been good for me on many levels. I am struggling to find myself after a year that devastated me professionally and the #CLMOOC has challenged me, energized me, and inspired me – and we’re not even done yet! This week we were challenged to hack our writing. As I contemplated this challenge I realized that I have been forcing my students to hack their writing for a long time. One of my favorite tools to hack writing is the six word story (see Inspiring Writing, Learning in Six Words) although I do love micropoetry and flash fiction and simply Tweeting for similar reasons. When there are no words or characters to waste then you must weigh each word – sometimes each character – carefully. This sort of wordsmithery is fun and addicting, but also important work for writers. I can spill words effortlessly, but careful crafting is something else. Yet, I have found, on the opposite end of the spectrum writers who struggle to put words on a page are less frightened of the six word challenge.

As I worked on my own writing hack (Praise to the Teacher Writer) I discovered there is something else about hacking writing that makes us examine our words more closely. I put my praise poem into a Haiku Deck as I love the vast library of images they offer and I wanted to create a visual poem, but working in that medium made me think about the ways that the words work together because Haiku Deck makes me choose where my words will appear on the page. Do I want specific stanzas to be separated by the image for emphasis or do I want all the words to hang together as one unit? Haiku Deck also limits the words I can put on a line or a slide (another reason I like this tool) and so it forces me to adjust my structure slightly. Finally, there is the choice of images. Sometimes I come to a stanza with an image in mind but sometimes I simply entered my words and let Haiku Deck suggest options, but both forced me to see my words through a new lens.

This spring I challenged my students to make their presentations about the class projects before completing their final papers. I knew that changing the medium and forcing them to interact with an audience would help them as they wrote and revised. This make cycle has reinforced for me how effective playing with different media can be to help us write and revise and revision. Now if I can only stop adjusting my Haiku Deck Praise Song

5 comments

  • Is a filter (a 6 word story) a hack? Is this kind of translation a hack? Is remixing a hack? Is repurposing writing a hack? These are questions I am obsessing over this week. (H)actually, I have been trying to ‘get’ this word for a while–failing so far.

    • Once we are doing something as part of a “program” such as the #CLMOOC or a class – does it automatically lose its hack status? I think we need to step back to think about hacks because much like genre it is subject to context…just because something is once a hack does not mean it will forever be a hack. My head hurts…

  • “…just because something is once a hack does not mean it will forever be a hack.”

    I agree with the principle of this statement, but I hasten to point out that NBC’s Brian Williams WILL always be a hack. 😛

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