Olalekan Adepoju, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing
‘Hanging in there’ is a common expression at our weekly writing group. It is an expression that resonates with both graduate students and faculty participants as they seek to navigate the plethora of writing demands as well as other academic and life anxieties. Mostly, the expression is not out of frustration; rather it is made to describe how this group of people are progressing along in their academic activities, specifically graduate-level writing, despite its attendant challenges and struggles. Hence, they are not only ‘hanging in there,’ but also consistently taking ‘baby steps’ toward the completion of their various projects. And the weekly writing group has thus become a safe environment for writers to connect with, encourage, and motivate each other along the way.
A brief overview: the weekly writing group, which is organized by the University Writing Center, invites graduate students and faculty at the University of Louisville to come together during a dedicate time to work on any writing project at their own pace. The primary goal of our writing group is to provide support, community, and accountability for participants working on research or scholarly writing. Hence, it is not surprising that participants are open to discussing writing struggles, offering strategies working for them and sharing writing resources beneficial to everyone. Below are perspectives anonymously shared by some of the writing group participants on the importance of the weekly writing group:
“I appreciate having a space in which I can be a part of a community of writers and also can be held accountable.”
“It gave me the structured time to write with a group of people and see their progress in their writing journey and also see my own progress.”
“The writing group was a supportive group of peers steadily working on their individual writing goals.”
From participants’ reports above, we see that the writing group not only provides an influential support to the writers, but it also facilitates a sense of belonging to community working toward similar goals. To these participants, the writing group becomes a literal representation of ‘hanging in there’ because the group promotes significant actions that encourage them to forge ahead despite the difficulties. These significant actions invariably become a means for collective motivation that incentivizes participants to accomplish their writing goals as much as possible. Some of the significant actions peculiar to our writing group include:
- Respectfully listening to writing concerns, needs, and struggles.
- Discussing both writing related and non-writing related concerns: From work-life balance to organizing literature review, to self-care, among others
- Celebrating milestones and success stories: Be it completing the day’s writing goals, completion/defense of dissertation, submission of articles for publication or conference abstract
- Sharing relevant writing (and non-writing) resources such as blogposts, productivity planner, and yes, movie recommendations
- Setting a week-long, specific writing goal to keep everyone accountable
Research has shown that writing groups help writers to improve their writing, establish a good writing habit, and be more productive in and confident about their writing. In addition to these benefits, the participants at our weekly graduate students and faculty writing group continue to affirm how the group encourages them to hang in there and take consistent baby steps toward accomplishing their writing projects.
If you are a University of Louisville graduate student or faculty member and are interested in participating in our supportive writing community, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.