Joining or starting a graduate writing group can serve many functions, such as expanding your knowledge of writing processes, establishing regular deadlines for your writing, receiving constructive feedback on your work, and creating a system of support for yourself during the dissertation process.
The Writing Center supports graduate writing groups. If you are interested in joining a group, go to http://writing.msu.edu/resources/writing-groups/ for more information and to fill out an interest form. Groups are usually formed at the beginning of each semester, so placement is easiest in September and January.
Another option is to start your own group. If you go this route, here is some advice:
- Keep your group to about 3 to 5 members. You want to be able to create a feeling of close community and trust, and you want to be able to have time for each participant to share his/her writing every couple weeks.
- If you have the opportunity, form a group with graduate students who have similar interests, goals, and views about writing so that your group will work collaboratively together.
- Make sure members are committed and will stick with the group. Ask members to make a commitment of at least two semesters to create continuity.
- Schedule meetings regularly to minimize the problems related to everyone’s hectic graduate life. For example, decide to meet every Tuesday from 3:00 to 5:00PM or set your specific times and dates at the beginning of each semester.
- Set a definite agenda for each meeting—socialize either before of after business. One way to structure the group, for example, is to take turns bringing your own work to the meetings.
- If you form a leaderless group, set up parameters and guidelines. You can take turns facilitating, but be sure you lay out guidelines when you begin, so that all group members know the expectations of the group.
- A group leader can be helpful in dealing with problems or eliminating unproductive members or habits of the group. If someone is willing to lead, and others concur, this can help streamline the process.
- Encourage each other to set goals and support each other in reaching them. Use contracts or other goal-setting tools and let the group be your cheering section and support network.