This year, our National Day on Writing celebration was a bit more familiar but no less exciting. According to the NCTE website, the National Day on Writing is a day to recognize all forms of writing, built on “the premise that writing is critical to literacy but needs greater attention and celebration.” This mission is one near and dear to our hearts. So, with tweets prepped, pens at the ready, and sticky notes shining brightly in the sun, we were ready to call attention to the diverse voices of the Mason community as they let us know their thoughts on writing.
A bit differently than last year, we set up our booths in the atrium of Fenwick Library and in the JC South Plaza. Our WAC team kicked the day off right, writing a few sticky notes themselves and placing them on the poster boards or glass windows, respectively. Then, as the morning wore on and people stopped by, we asked them to tell us why, when, what, where, or how they write. Their answers? Varied and written in Sharpie on our colorful sticky notes. Even good old George, campus’ most famous writer, got into the writing spirit.
Note by note, the windows and boards were filling up! At Fenwick, we even started running out of room inside. So our team of volunteers decided to place some of the answers on the outside of the library. They talked with students and professors alike; they even met a couple of dogs along the way!
Like we’ve been seeing in our Writers of Mason profiles, the writers we met at NDOW demonstrated just how diverse our campus’ writing culture is. Certainly, some of the notes repeated similar ideas, but others took us by surprise. Here are some samples of what people shared:
- #whyIwrite: to express my ideas, to share my passion and give some to others, quoting Aeschylus, to tell the truth and tell stories of those who aren’t able to, to better understand the world, because my voice is heard 10x more when it’s on paper, to outpour an expression of my soul,
- #whatIwrite: stories, scientific purposes, 100 emails a day, self-exploration, creative stories, prayers to God, about my cancer experience, my sanity, music and lyrics, haikus, grant proposals, social media posts, YA fiction,
- #howIwrite: without writing there would be no heroes, creating new life, all at once, with pretty pens and tea, with so so much coffee, collaboratively, transforming what already exists into something new,
- #whenIwrite: between 8 and 10 p.m., everyday and in so many ways, with a deadline approaching, inspiration hits, in the middle of the night, right when I get up, in a blind panic, early in the morning when no one is around to bother me, escribo cuando estoy aburrido
- #whereIwrite: in a blue moleskin, at home, on the couch with my laptop, into the universe, in Fenwick library, everywhere but the toilet, in my mind, at the park near my house, Gathering Grounds coffee shop
In addition to these hashtags, we had fantastic engagement online all week! The WAC team had the privilege of taking over Mason’s official Twitter account (@georgemasonu) for the week to spread messages about the NDOW, writing tips in general, and specifics about writing at Mason. Each day, we tweeted every 30 minutes during business hours, making sure everyone had the chance to view the writing world at Mason. We tweeted almost 100 times the entire week thanks to help from the Mason community. However, the NDOW was a huge day for social media engagement and proved to be the most prolific. We tweeted a total of 58 times that day through Mason’s twitter, cross publishing with WAC’s twitter (@thewritingcampus). With replies and mentions, Mason’s engagement across all accounts was upwards of 250 tweets for the day.
Some of our favorite tweets included:
- the use of our lego sets to replicate the inside of an MFA workshop and establish a swashbuckling writer ship
- one professor’s appeal to writing, Broadway, and Hamilton
- photos of the visit from over 40 middle school children from Oyster Adams Bilingual School in Adams Morgan, Washington D.C.
- one volunteer’s haiku on the National Day on Writing
Our favorite post of the day had to be one by Mason’s president, Angel Cabrera. He posted a picture of himself holding up a sign saying “Scribo ergo sum” which translated from Latin means, “I write, therefore, I am.” His engagement was the highlight of our day and showcases the appreciation the administration has for the work we are doing within the wider academic community.
All of this couldn’t have been possible without the help of some dedicated volunteers either; a bevy of tutors from the writing center, faculty from the Composition program and the Stearns Center joined us. By the end of the day, we were all tired but we had a lot of fun talking with people across campus about writing. We can’t wait until next year’s National Day on Writing!