Major(s), Concentration(s): Interactive Media
Year at Elon: Graduate student
1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
My writing background mostly includes newspaper writing. I was a reporter for The Daily Tar Heel at UNC-Chapel Hill, The Carrboro Commons and the News & Record in Greensboro. I have limited experience in writing press releases and grants for local professional organizations.
I also enjoy blogging. The National Association of Black Journalists introduced me to blogging when I reported for the NABJ Student Projects in 2008. Through blogs, I have been able to capture my experiences studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain, and working on a multimedia project in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. I'm currently keeping track of my life as an iMedia student on my personal blog and the award-winning Eye on iMedia blog. Please view my work on www.dionilwise.com.
2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the articles I wrote about a very troubling subject – a mass shooting in which a woman killed five children she cared for (including her teenage sons) and herself. The crime was gruesome. But over the course of a few weeks, I was able to write about the children's lives and not just their deaths. I talked with family and friends to understand the children’s true essences. At their joint funeral, a pastor read the lead from one of my articles. It was a bittersweet moment, but I knew I had touched someone with my words.
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My couch or bed. They’re comfy and familiar.
4. Do you have any interesting quirks and/or routines you follow when writing or when you are preparing to write? What are they?
I probably should use physical outlines more, but I prefer the “word vomit” method to cure writer’s block. I just spew out the words and clean up the mess later.
5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
My favorite writer is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. He writes with clarity and authority. A few years ago, he started writing fiction. I flew through his first novel “Before I Forget” because of his vivid writing and the suspenseful plot. Pitts has a strong voice, which I hope to cultivate in my own writing.
6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
My best writing experience occurred when I was still a newspaper reporter. I had been in a funk, but back-to-back feature stories brought me back to life. The first story recounted the first time a heart attack victim saw his son after he missed the birth. The second story featured the return of a high school football standout to the field after he broke his neck. I was inspired by these people and was able to write with ease, making my editor and myself proud.
7. What would you most like to improve about your writing?
8. What advice do you have for other Elon writers?
Write even when you don’t want to. I’ve failed to capture some beautiful memories in words because I was too lazy to grab my laptop or a pen and paper.
9. What else (if anything) would you like to say?
Show, don't tell.