Say what you will about the effects of technology on art and culture. Complain all you like about too much email and time-sucking social networks.
Because I’ve just had a revelation! We are all writers now, in almost every facet of our communications. Doesn’t matter if you’re writing literary novels, personal essays, blog posts, website copy, or texts to your grandkids. You’re typing words on a screen for someone else to read and then comment.
Might seem surprising that someone who runs a writing studio would think this is a revelation. But it’s always the slow and subtle changes in life that we miss until we take a step back and re-examine the details. We’ve taken the past several months at StoryStudio to do just that: step back and re-evaluate who we are and how we can help.
The Center for Writing
Back in 2003 when I began the studio, I had envisioned quiet, sunlit rooms where women and men of all ages curled up on couches and scratched out stories in coffee-stained notebooks or balanced clunky computers across their laps. We would have classes and parties and retreats. There would be books passed around and tales told of stalking agents in New York.
All of that did happen (including the stalking part!). It does happen. Every day.
But still, I’ve been feeling that something is different. I’d lift my nose to sniff out what it might be, but I couldn’t quite catch the scent. It took the chance meeting of an old friend at a coffee shop to start a chain of events that led me to return to my roots in technology. Over the past four months, I’ve been a networking fool, attending events, making new contacts, and setting up coffee dates. I’ve talked to tech start-ups and venture capitalists, higher education deans, content marketers, SEO specialists, and programmers. The conversations have been fascinating and as I get up to speed on where technology is taking us, I’m realizing just how important StoryStudio will be to us.
And by “us”, I mean you and me. The writers of the world.
Once I stopped and looked, really looked at the details, it became clear that Facebook and Twitter and email and the web have turned EVERYONE into a writer. If you work in an office or make dinner plans, you know how to email and text. If you’re one of the many authors out there trying to get your book into the hands of readers, then you know all about building your “platform” and starting a blog. Maybe you’re in sales or marketing, finance, or just plain corporate something or other, you write to work.
None of this is really new. It’s been a slow march back for civilization to return to the written word. It’s just that paper has been taken out of the equation.
So what’s different? My conversations with creative artists outside of the writing world made me see that technology is not a thing in and of itself. It is a “tool” and nothing more. I metKevin Willer of the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center and told him that StoryStudio didn’t quite fit into the tech world because we’re not developing software. He said nothing could be further from the truth. “There are no technology companies,” he told me. “There are companies using technology to solve a problem.”
His comment really resonated with me and was the first conversation in a long thread of understanding this symbiosis of today’s computers and our ability as writers.
Using Technology to Solve Challenges
In the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing exciting new programs that do just what Kevin suggested: use technology to further our aims as writers.
In the meantime, we’re opening our studio doors even wider to claim the mantle of:
After more than eight years of being “the center for writing and related arts,” StoryStudio is starting its new reign as “the center for writing and writers.”
A subtle change? It’s all in the details.
Jill Pollack is the founder and director of StoryStudio Chicago: the center for writing and writers. She will be looking even more closely at the relationship of writing and and the Internet as a co-host of Content Jam 2012 conference this June with Andy Crestodina ofOrbit Media, Tim Frick of MightyBytes, and Hilary Marsh.