Writing a thesis can feel isolating. Even if you are traveling the grad school journey with a cohort, you may get out of sync with others or feel different from the group. One way to break out of isolation and kick-start your writing is to connect with your peers and either write together and/or share your writing. Wendy Belcher, editor, teacher, and the author of Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, is a proponent of making your writing social and collaborative, whether through involvement in a writing group or with a writing partner. Writing with others can allay writer’s block and other forms of anxiety, make you more productive, and help you feel connected to others.
Following are some ideas to get you started in creating a sense of writing community:
- Thesis Writing Starter Kit: This resource provides tips on how to form a writing group or partnership.
- The Centre for Academic Communication: Working with a tutor at the CAC can help you deal with writing challenges that you don’t necessarily want to bring to your supervisor. You can book a 50-minute session once a week (2 X 25 minute sessions, back to back), working with the same tutor for continuity or trying out different tutors. Email email@example.com to inquire about our face-to-face and online tutoring.
- Every Friday from 10-1, the Centre for Academic Communication hosts a “writing room” for graduate students in Library 151B. It’s a quiet space where you can write alongside other graduate students.
- Check out the twice-yearly Thesis Boot Camps for graduate students.
- Blogging about your experience can help you feel less isolated on your journey and, according to Thomson and Kamler (2016), is an important part of performing your “scholarly identity” (see pp. 116-121). As a UVic student, you can use the Online Academic Community to start a free WordPress blog with technical support from the experts at Technology Integrated Learning, UVic. If you don’t want to start your own blog but would like to share your story, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about getting your story up on the Graduate Student Writers’ Community blog.
- You may not relish the idea of connecting with a writing partner, writing group, or writing tutor. Have you considered reading academic blogs on topics relevant to you? Reading academic blogs can make you feel connected to the wider community of academic writers, graduate students, and researchers. A few recommended blogs follow; please let me know if you have a favourite one you’d like to add:
The Thesis Whisperer. From the blog: “The Thesis Whisperer is a blog newspaper dedicated to the topic of doing a thesis and is edited by Dr Inger Mewburn, Director of research training at the Australian National University.” Mewburn and guest writers from across the world post about every possible topic related to writing a dissertation. Her approach is humanizing, playful, and encouraging.
Patter. From the blog: “Patter is Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham.” Thomson blogs often on scholarly writing, writing a dissertation, publishing, and writing or research problems and solutions. Her posts are organic—springing from what is happening in her busy life as an academic.
Explorations of Style| A blog about academic writing. From the blog: “Explorations of Style offers readers an ongoing discussion of the challenges of academic writing. The ability to formulate and clarify our thoughts is central to the academic enterprise; this blog discusses strategies to improve the process of expressing our research in writing.” Dr. Rachael Cayley, from the University of Toronto, covers many topics of interest to dissertation and other academic writers in a down-to-earth style. The blog appears to be inactive now, but there are some great classic posts about reverse outlining, paragraphing, and transitions.
Do you have a recommendation about how to “make writing social”? Send your ideas and resources to Madeline at email@example.com
This is adapted from a page written by Madeline Walker in the Dissertation Writers Resource on this blog; last updated November 22, 2018