What actually happens at Write Club?

Kelly Louise Preece is the Researcher Development Manager for PGRs in the Doctoral College. You’ll recognise her face from workshops, her voice from WEBINARs, and her jokes from the 90s. You can follow her on twitter for musings about Researcher Development and the PGR experience…interspersed with tweets about superheros and sewing.

 

Last week I wrote about our new Doctoral College initiative to support PGR and ECR writing – Write Club. I talked about our aims and objectives, and the importance of talking about writing and building an engaged community. But what actually happens at Write Club?

Write Clubs so far have been led by myself and Dr. Sally Flint, who is a writer, poet, tutor and editor Riptide journal and Canto poetry. We start with a creative writing task – based on Sally’s work, and the session she deliver for us Creative Approaches to Writing Your Thesis. The aim is to write freely for 5 minutes – in response to an image or object that we provide – and without judgement.

These creative writing tasks are a great way to warm-up those synapses for writing, and to think storytelling, imagery and prose. When 5 minutes are up, we ask the group to share their aims and goals for the session. Sharing goals is an integral part of Write Club. It can help focus your writing time, act as a commitment to a task, and make sure you are working towards something achievable.

And then we do some (academic) writing.

Although we knowingly stole the idea for Write Club from Dr. Sarah Dyer in Geography [link], we are currently following a slightly different model. Sarah’s group uses long, intensive writing periods – as in Rowena Murray’s writing retreats [link]– whereas we alternate  between writing for half an hour, and stopping for 10 minutes of discussion. Approaching writing in short bursts is ‘borrowed’ from another colleague Dr. Siobhan O’Dwyer in the Medical School. Siobhan is the founder of the international twitter community/write club Shut Up and Write Tuesdays, which uses the podormo technique to structure writing time in to 25 minute blocks. We combined SUWT’s shorter bursts with Murray’s discussion breaks to create the initial format for Write Club.

There are two important things to point out.

Firstly, we take the concept of writing quite loosely. It could be writing new prose, editing, reading, thinking – anything that moves the work forward.Secondly, the format and model for Write Club is developing. We are working PGRs and ECRs to continually reflect on and develop the writing space and support we are providing, to make sure it matches the needs of our PGRs and ECRs. That’s why we value the feedback of attendees so highly – and it has been great to see so many engaging with us on feedback forms, by email, and on twitter. On top of feedback, it has been great to hear about the achievements that have come out of Write Club so far. Our resident baker Edward Mills completed the abstract for this upgrade document in our first session.

So there you have it – a brief snapshot of Write Club. Why not join us on 18th January? PGRs can book through My Career Zone, ECRs through Trent!

Do you want to start-up your own writing group, or facilitate one of our Write Clubs? We already have a Shut Up and Write Tuesday group that meeting every Tuesday in the Old Library Computer Cluster! We are happy to provide support and training to anyone interested, so please get in touch with my on k.preece@exeter.ac.uk!