Engl 580: My Multimodal Composing Process

There is nothing I love, or perhaps hate, more than starting a new writing project. I love the clean slate of opening a new Word document to begin writing about whatever subject it may be. It’s a chance for me to begin my multimodal composing process once again. When I am writing, it is normally for either journalism or English, and the two processes are entirely differently. In this blog post I will describe and analyze both of them and the multimodal aspects that are involved.

According to “Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects,” multimodal is “…a mash-up of multiple and mode. A mode is a way of communicating, such as the words we’re using to explain our ideas in this paragraph or the images we use throughout the book to illustrate various concepts. Multimodal describes how we combine multiple different ways of communicating in everyday life,” (Arola, et.al. p. 1). The multimodal texts involved in my writing varies depending on whether I am writing for English or journalism.

I like to write in my agenda reminders to work on my paper in advance, and to mark it off after I do so.

I like to begin my writing for English however far in advance where I can write a single page per day and have the entire piece done by the due date. I would rather take 15 or 30 minutes for multiple days working on an assignment than hours for one day. I find this process to be less overwhelming, and to provide me enough time where I am able to thoroughly develop my paper and the argument it contains. I also find that coming back to it each day gives me a new outlook, because I may think of something randomly when I am walking to class or in another class that could enhance the quality of my paper.

My ideal writing environment…

I like to take all of my notes on paper during class, and then use them when writing papers.

When I am writing the paper, I get very distracted by conversations surrounding me, as my mind tends to listen to them instead of focusing on my paper. So, my ideal writing environment is in a quiet room, specifically my room, at my desk. I always have my planner out and open to the current date to make sure I am on the correct task. If I am using literary sources, I will have them open on my laptop in Google Chrome or if it is a paper book I will have that open. If I took any notes regarding the topic my paper is covering, I will have those open in a notebook (I always take notes on paper) and typically highlight, circle or star the specific topics I want to make sure to address in my paper. Additionally, if there are voices around when I am writing, I like to listen to Frank Sinatra on Spotify. My family almost always had him playing in the background at my home, so I am used to having that in the background and not focusing on it. Also, I love Frank Sinatra and find his voice very calming, which helps me concentrate.

This is one of my favorite pieces from Frank Sinatra (even if it is a cover).

As I write the paper, I typically try to perfect it paragraph-by-paragraph, normally as an attempt to avoid a first draft. When I finish the paper, I will then look over it quickly, as well as have someone else who I trust read over the paper and provide me with feedback. Then I will, if I have time, look over it once more before submitting the assignment on Blackboard or printing it out to turn in.

I believe the processes I take in writing reflect my very orderly personality. Such modes as always having my color-coded agenda open to today’s date, even if I do not need it, or starting the writing days before so that I can write a page a day help my brain stay organized to finish the writing while also not feeling too overwhelmed or stressed. If I were to avoid these modes, it would cause me to be distracted and unfocused as I would be thinking about not being “on top” of things. My environment and the sounds surrounding me (whether it be music or white noise) can typically change when I am writing, but I always need my agenda out and enjoy being on my schedule. According to the Kairos website, “Composing changes, moves, shifts, and evolves with our bodies and the tools we adopt/adapt.” I think one of the most important pieces of my multimodal composing process is that it can change, and it does change, constantly, but the main modes are almost always the same.

I like to find story ideas using the #ksleg on Twitter, since my current beat is state politics.
This is what my notes look like for pitching story ideas.

However, when it comes to my journalistic writing the differences are very apparent. When I write journalistic-ally, I begin by having to find a story that is both interesting and newsworthy, which I usually find via press releases or Twitter. Once I have a story idea, I pitch it to my professor or news editor and making sure to note how it relates to our specific audience. If they like the story, I can begin working on it, which usually starts with me emailing or calling sources to interview. These I typically find by Googling, or calling a communications person for a company and asking who they would recommend I speak with. Once I am in contact with a source, I will find a time to meet with them or call them for an interview as soon as possible (for my job it must be that day because my story is always due by the evening shows). Once I set up times with all my sources, I begin researching the topic to form the most accurate and best I could ask. Since my beat, or subject that I write about, is politics and I usually am talking to politicians, I like to ask a lot of questions not only having to do with the topic but also trying to ensure they are not hiding or covering up the truth. I also ask a lot about whether they are running for another position come election time if they have not yet announced. After I have formed my questions, I go to the interview.

This is the kind of camera I use to shoot footage for school or at work (although that camera is slightly larger and nicer).

When I meet someone for an interview, I will then set up the camera if it is for my job at KSNT. If not, I’ll just sit with the person and record the interview. At the end of asking my questions, I always make sure to ask them if there is anything else they would like to say, as that is typically when you get the most passionate response from a source. After that I thank them, take pictures if necessary, and am off to do another interview. After they are all done, I begin with writing the script as quickly as possibly because I am normally crunched for time. After the script is approved by my producer, I will start putting the package (video that includes multiple interviews with a voice over) together using my footage from the interview, any b-roll I shot, and footage we already have on file. Once the package is fully produced, I upload it to the station’s system, and then cut it to a VOSOT (just voiceover that cuts to an interview) for the night and morning shows. After that I make another VOSOT (which is a very similar process as the last) and upload it to the station’s system. Lastly, I write a web story on this and upload it to the website.

This writing process is extremely fast-paced while also staying in routine and ensuring accuracy. There are multiple different multimodal components in this form of writing, from the videography and photography, to me speaking in front of the camera, to talking to my sources, to writing a web story all impact how my writing process occurs. Every source I speak to shapes what angle I want to take on my story. I believe that to be the greatest difference between when I write for English or for journalism, because my multimodal composing process has different effects. My English writing process helps keep me in routine and focused, helping me to strengthen my writing. My journalistic writing process, instead, helps me develop my story.

Here is the first package I ever made! (They’ve gotten a lot better, I promise)

These multimodal communicative processes both contain different major themes. My English writing process provides a safe space for my sensory processing and a system of organization. The restraint this process entails is negative social skills. This perhaps could be due to a lot of my English classes having a more traditional academic curriculum that does not always allow for multimodality. This is why I believe it is important for English classes to begin adapting to the changing times and allowing an increase of multimodality and creativity in the classroom. I believe this will allow the students to thrive to their full potential in projects and even traditional papers.

My journalistic writing process instead creates an outlet for creativity, an ease of accessing information, drafting, formatting, revising, and editing, enables collaboration and feedback. The restraint that this process entails is authenticity of work and reliability of sources and distractions or multi-tasking. With journalism, it is critical that all of your information be accurate and credible, which sometimes (or most of the time) is not always easy. Especially when you are having to prepare work for that same day and do not have time to do a intensive background check on each source. Due to so many things needing to be done by the evening show, it can become very stressful.

I think there is a lot of potential and a need for these two subjects to overlap in order to enhance the writers abilities. Both of my writing processes, whether it be English or journalism, have similarities in my processes as well as differences in the ways in which I display my multimodal composing process.

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