Archives for category: writing

Here is the abstract for a paper I presented at the Student Education Conference and Digital Festival, “Evidencing Excellence” in at the University of Leeds, 8 January 2016.

“Shut up and write!” Making academic writing social

Writing is an area with which many students (and academics!) struggle, particularly as it is inherently a solitary practice. “Shut up and Write!” (“SU&W!”) sessions make academic writing social. The format which has recently become popular with researchers (Mewburn et al, 2014) can also be a powerful tool when shared with taught students. “SU&W!” was a departure for Skills@Library with a stronger experiential emphasis than traditional workshops can allow. This session will address how and why “SU&W!” helps students tackle procrastination and lack of focus. Skills@Library first trialled “SU&W!” for taught students as a one-off experiment. Feedback was extremely positive, so in summer 2015, ten “SU&W!” were offered, targeting primarily Masters students. This session uses personal reflections on the “SU&W!” process and analysis of student comments. “SU&W!” provides structured and focussed time with clear goals, providing students with immediate feedback on their writing process. Peer pressure prevents distraction; peer support helps with motivation and encourages student-to-student exchange of strategies for becoming better writers. Sessions are relatively simple to run and can act as a catalyst for students to set up their own groups.
By the end of this session, participants will have learned how and why “SU&W!” can be a powerful tool for reducing student isolation and developing excellent writing practices; and will have the tools to set-up sessions within their own context.

Link to Evidencing Excellence theme
“Shut up and write!” develops self-awareness in managing academic writing through modelling best practices. The session will also highlight applications and digital resources which can be used to support the writing process, both face-to-face and online.

How do you evidence excellence in use of this initiative and/or technology?
“SU&W!” sessions work with undergraduates, taught postgraduate and research students. They fit well with peer support initiatives; study skills sessions taught within modules as well as central provision. Once students have experienced the format they are encouraged to run groups themselves. Similar sessions could target other study skills, such as “Shut up and Read/Revise!”.
“SU&W!” may also be particularly appropriate for supporting part-time and distance students, using Skype.

Ways in which content or technology could be used in other disciplines / services
The session will include the student voice through examples of feedback on “Shut up and write!” sessions, including how it has informed/improved their writing practices.

Here is the hand out as used in sessions with students: Shut up and write2.




HUMS Writing Group Poster

I had my panel last week and have a serious amount of writing to do over the next few months. The Shut up and Write! sessions we’ve been holding face to face and online have been extremely motivating, and a couple of people have made it through to submission, so completion is possible! I’m planning sessions on campus on 21st October, 4th and 18th November. Based on previous experience, things work best if:

  • we think beforehand about what we want to work on and do the reading/prep before we come
  • phones and internet are turned off during writing periods
  • there’s a good supply of drinks and snacks!

We’ll be in SALC for the first one and there are coffee making facilities on the first floor (bring your own mug), I will bring milk and possibly snacks. The room is booked for three hours in total, with (nearly) two hours dedicated to focussed writing time. This is the schedule we’ve used:

  • 20 mins social time: intros, writing goals for the day, setting up (and biscuits)
  • 25 mins writing
  • 5 mins silent break, no talking in the room
  • 25 mins writing
  • 20 mins social break, coffee (and biscuits)
  • 25 mins writing
  • 5 mins silent break, no talking in the room
  • 25 mins writing
  • 20 mins social time; follow-up, feedback, discussion (and more biscuits…)

If you are going to be late, the etiquette is that it’s OK to arrive up to 15 minutes into the pre-writing social time. This leaves 5 minutes before writing starts for you to get set up (and you’ll have to be quick!). We discussed at earlier sessions about people who could only commit to half the time (or need to leave early) and decided that was OK, but joining or leaving in the social time/breaks at the beginning, middle or end of the whole session causes least disruption. Of course, this is just the model we’ve used in the past, it’s all open to renegotiation at the start of each session. All welcome!

For more info about how this started:

And how the first session went:

Being forced to articulate writing goals for the session and having the ‘tap, tip, tap’ of the keyboard or ‘scratch, scritch, scratch’ of a pencil drives the writing forward. We share writing tips and challenges, but best of all, we get to celebrate each others achievements, however small. Progress is progress!

For info on this and future sessions, find HUMS Writing Group on facebook here.

Download a .pdf version of the poster with embedded links here: HUMS Writing Group (best for sharing via email).

Having come to the end of AcWriMo, I’m keen to keep up the momentum and also to try out some of the ideas I’ve come across to motivate me to write more. Short notice, I know, but Im planning a ‘Shut up and write!’ / afternoon writing retreat at Manchester. I have booked a room from 1:00-4:00 pm  for Wednesday 4th December (Group Study Room C1.21 School of Arts Languages and Cultures, Graduate School, Ellen Wilkinson).

It only has a capacity of six, so please add a comment below if you are planning on coming. If there are more than six of us, I will try to find an alternative venue.

The room is booked for three hours, but I’m thinking we would perhaps have two blocks: 20 minutes social/intro, one hour writing (in two Pomodoros?) and do this twice, but I’m open to suggestions.

Having read various blogs, it seems these kind of events work best if:

  • you think beforehand about what you want to work on and do the reading/prep before you come
  • phones and internet are turned off during writing periods
  • there’s a good supply of drinks and snacks

There are coffee making facilities on the first floor (bring your own mug), I’ll bring milk and possibly snacks.

It would be great to make some new writing buddies, whatever your subject. This is an experiment and new for me, but anything which can help defeat isolation and procrastination is worth a shot!

I’ve decided to take the plunge and join AcWriMo this year. This post will be brief, as I’m already behind, but plan to catch up today. My goal it to write an average of 1,000 words a day for everyday in November. They can be on anything directly related to writing for the PhD. I have a couple of abstracts and a poster to write, but the main thing I need to do at the moment is write up the interviews which I have just completed here in Kyoto. A few ground rules I’m setting myself:

  • To be included in the word count, they must be written in Scrivener. Thus drafts on paper, Evernote or Word don’t apply. This is to help me make sure that everything ends up in a place where I can find it later, i.e. I’ve decided where it’s going, it has a purpose.
  • First drafts and edits or re-writes are fine, but it’s the total words added which counts, so anything deleted is out.
  • Notes on readings don’t count, but that shouldn’t stop me doing them!
  • Blogs, twitter, facebook don’t count… so I’d better get on with my writing for today.

Oh, and I have to travel back to the UK in this time, hence why I am aiming for an average. I did a couple of days last week to get myself going and may add the words I did then for my travel days… hope that’s not cheating.

I’ll post here occasionally (if I’ve done my word count for the day), but you can also follow me on twitter @lucubrat.