Writing Together: How Peer Writing Communities Can Be Your Secret to Success
Monday, May 19, 2014 Writing Communities
Writing can feel like a lonely exercise sometimes, and often when you’re alone with your keyboard it’s easy to forget about your audience. As you focus intently on the task at hand, it is also easy to forget that, as you write, you are one among many people adding their voices to a broader academic discussion.
Writing with a Group
Writing with your colleagues has a number of benefits:
- It lets you work together to solve problems when you face similar issues with your writing.
- It makes you stick to a schedule and keeps you accountable to other people.
- It helps you become a better reader and reviser of your own work.
- It shows you how other people approach the writing process.
- It gives you the chance to share what you know and what has worked for you.
- It keeps you connected and helps you understand how other readers see your work.
- It gets you used to sharing your own ideas and lets you learn from your colleagues as they share theirs.
You are Not Alone (for better or worse)
As you progress through your degree, you should remember you are learning to write for an increasingly larger audience. So, even if it feels like you are just alone with your keyboard writing to nobody sometimes, remember two very important things:
- Developing your academic voice and writing in a scholarly way is all because you are in training to produce work that other researchers will someday read;
- Also, perhaps more importantly, you have dozens, even hundreds of peers who are going through the same thing and training for the same goal, and you can learn a lot from one another.
|Writing can be lonely--but it doesn't have to be.|
Building a Writing CommunityThere are a number of ways you can start a writing group, even if your colleagues are hundreds of miles away. If you are a doctoral student working on writing your proposal or final study, you can join the Walden Capstone Writing Community.
If you are not in a doctoral program or you’re not quite at the proposal stage yet, keep track of the people you meet in your courses and at residencies who are working on similar topics, exchange contact information, and try to set up a time when you can all get together either online or over the phone to share drafts, talk about ideas, or work out problems you may have as you write. Helpful tips for keeping the group going include
- Consistency—Make a commitment to meet regularly, and try not to skip meetings, even if no one has a draft to share. Don’t let yourself get out of the habit of checking in with each other.
- Collegiality—Writing groups thrive on honest and respectful exchanges between peers, so make sure you remain engaged with others’ work and offer useful feedback every time.
- Compatibility—Try to build a group with people with whom you know you will work well. This could mean you are all writing on similar topics, or it could mean that you all work in the same way or just like to write at the same times. Be aware of what works well for you and find other people with similar habits.
As a Walden student, you may not have the luxury of a physical student lounge where you can hang out and work with your peers, but that doesn’t mean you have to write alone. Be proactive and get creative. Staying connected through this process will help you develop your own writing, and it will also give you the support you need when the going gets tough.
Other posts you might like:
Who Needs a Writing Buddy? You Do!
Community: Your Secret Weapon
Lydia Lunning is one of Walden’s dissertation editors and the Coordinator for Capstone Resources in the Writing Center. Lydia also helps oversee the Walden Capstone Writing Community, a place where doctoral students working on their proposals and final studies can connect with their colleagues and get support through the capstone writing process.