Shut Up And Write!

Today I did my first #SUWTUK. For those not au fait with twitter hastags, Shut Up and Write Tuesdays (SUWT) is ‘a virtual writing workshop for academic folk’. The first and third Tuesday of every month you spend an hour writing – in two podormos of 25 minutes – with a virtual writing coach and community via the Shut Up and Write Tuesday UK twitter account (@SUWTUK) and the #SUWTUK hashtag. My purpose was twofold:

  • to get down on paper some critical reflections about my own professional development, with some dedicated time to do so – it’s difficult when your job is developing others, to give time over to developing yourself
  • to explore how we might develop a #SUWTUK community in the Doctoral College

I have to say, I didn’t start in the best place. I had spent the morning irritated after finding out tasks had been deleted from my Outlook calendar, and as such I hadn’t remembered to do something. It was the kind of think that has no real life consequences, but put me in a rather frustrated mood. As I spent the 15 minutes before #SUWTUK started madly pulling some notes together so I had something to right about, I didn’t think it was going to go well. Like most people, I have this perceived need to be in the ‘right frame of mind to write’. Nonetheless I dutifully closed my email, set-up a Hootsuite stream for #SUWTUK and opened a new word document.

What surprised me was how quickly I became engrossed in writing. I think it helped that I had been mulling over my own professional development needs for a while, and so had ‘stuff’ in my head that needed articulating. 578 words later, I found that I had I missed the end of the first podormo by 4 minutes. Something about the focused, condensed amount of time seemed to switch me in to gear – but it was difficult to keep an eye on the tweets (@SUWTUK give you instructions of when to start and stop writing) and time, as well immerse myself in my writing.

After a 5 minute break, part 2 got off to a bad start. It was difficult to get back in to writing – I felt like I had lost my momentum. But I got it back, and I spent the second podormo mostly editing what I had already written. This resulted in 200 more words, and something more focused and purposeful.

I can’t remember ever writing 774 words so quickly. Whilst they may not be Nobel prise worthy, they are useful. These ideas are finally ‘on paper’, and I have something to back to and edit again later. I stopped writing with a real sense of momentum and focus – so much so that I immediately started writing this blog post. So, combined with my #SUWTUK, I have written 1351 words in under two hours. And countless tweets (collated as a storify here). That ain’t bad.

One of the really great things about the twitter side of #SUWTUK is the affirmations you get from @SUWTUK – encouraging the whole community, but also congratulating people individually on their achievements. Having @SUWTUK as moderator and coach is invaluable – I’m not sure it would work without it.

The fact that I have outcomes (as in words on paper), enthusiasm and momentum makes me really keen to buy in to the #SUWTUK. The next one is on Tuesday 1st November at 10am. I’ll be (virtually) there. Will you?

Author: Kelly Preece is the Researcher Development Programme Manager for Postgraduate Researchers in the Doctoral College. You can follow her on twitter – she tweets as @Preece_Kelly and @ExeterDoctoral!

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