I must admit, you can’t call me the most technologically savvy person. However, technology intrigues me through the way it inspires, enables and empowers people to do. Also, I know it’s a great way to connect to our students and inspire them. I have never tweeted myself, but I have recently heard of Twitter inspiring writing which drew me into the world of tweets. Apparently there are a few literary communities harnessing the restrictions and the connectivity of tweeting to inspire and share writing. As I have mentioned before I have witnessed how powerful and freeing simple structure can be.
It appears that the structure of the limitation of characters in tweeting (140 to be exact) is inspiring both poets and story writers alike. Not only can such a simple structure inspire writing but it forces careful word choice and allows only the most relevant information. As educators we can harness the power of this form of social media to engage and challenge the writers in our classrooms.
Poets tweet haiku poems, known as “twaiku”. And at #poetweet, people share Twitter poetry. (Please note that these tweets are not screened and not all content is child friendly!) Such a limited number of characters seems well suited for the literary form of poetry, especially ones with an already limited structure like the haiku, but novels?
Yes, it’s true.
There are novelists and story writers using Twitter to share stories. Mind you, they are not telling complete stories in one tweet. However, some are limiting themselves to no more than twelve tweets, each containing no more than 140 characters, to tell an entire story. What a wonderful way to teach brevity and economy to students, like myself, who tend to be rather verbose!
One novelist playing with Twitter to tell stories is John Wray. He has taken a character named Citizen, cut from one of his novels, and uses that character to write an on-going story. It’s not a novel with a story arc but rather an open-ended serial. I checked it out and after just a few tweets I felt right at home with the character and didn’t feel that I had missed anything by just jumping in midstream. Each tweet is crafted to stand on its own but the tweets read like a story when strung together. Wray quoted saying that this way of writing a story has been fun and liberating for him. Our students just might agree.
The art of writing can be a difficult one to teach and inspiration is a finicky thing.
When we discover something that can help inspire our students to write or explore a certain facet of writing, I believe it’s worth checking out. So if you are looking for new ways to inspire and facilitate the sharing of writing in your classes, challenge your students to tweet you a story!
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.