Are you looking to for ways to make the socially-distanced thesis or dissertation writing process more social? At least . . . virtually?
The MSU Writing Center will be facilitating writing groups for graduate students, but like everything else this year, they will look different than they have in the past. The goal, however, remains the same: to create a supportive writing community of fellow graduate students who give feedback on one another’s written work, regardless of what stage of draft it is. Writing groups are collaborative, non-evaluative spaces.
Writing groups this year will operate as online, asynchronous writing studios. Studios consist of up to five students who collaborate with each other and a facilitator each week for four weeks using Microsoft Teams. At the end of the four-week session, participants can decide to continue their work as a group, without the guidance of the facilitator.
A total of fifteen students will be accepted for each four-week session; students placed on the waitlist will be contacted if a spot becomes available.
If you are interested in joining an online writing studio, please complete this registration form. If you have further questions about the process, see the explanation below, or contact the MSU Writing Center’s Graduate Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 994-5314.
Online Writing Studios
Online writing studios are asynchronous. Instead of meeting at the same time and place, we will have multiple days to engage with each other’s work through comments on drafts. The goal in that time is to enter into conversation about the work, as we might if we were sitting together in a room talking.
Studio members should aim to ask questions and engage with ideas to help the writer see how readers are understanding what they have written. Of course, because we are in different disciplines, we won’t understand everything. That’s okay. Asking questions about the content creates and opportunity for the writer to explain the concepts to a non-specialist audience and that can help them to refine and clarify their thinking and writing.
The studio cycle looks like this:
Studios open every Monday by noon and close by Thursday at 5:00 pm.
Monday by noon: Studio opens with a post from the facilitator.
Tuesday by noon: Each group member posts a draft for the group along with questions and concerns they’re having, explaining what help is being requested.
Wednesday by 5 pm: Everyone, including the facilitator, reads and responds to each group member’s work/questions.
Thursday by 5 pm: Everyone reads through everyone’s responses, asks follow-up questions, offers clarifications; the facilitator will close the discussion by 5 pm.
What is a writing group?
A writing group is a small group of writers who meet, either face-to-face or online, to actively engage in their research and writing processes. Each member plays two roles: that of a writer, and that of a responder to the other writers/members of the group. The conversation revolves around the writing-in-process (drafts) that the writers share with the group.
In a writing group, you will find that you deepen and advance your own writing experience. You have an immediate audience of peers for testing your ideas and writing, access to others’ processes and revisions which may inform your own. Fellow researchers and writers assist one another in exploring ideas and responding to writing. A facilitator participates to help guide the discussion, but the sessions revolve around the dialogue and needs of the writers. The group space should be a “supportive space” for writers to work through the messiness of writing. (No one “grades” your writing in a writing group; we know writing is a process, and we are not necessarily seeing the final product.)
Welcome to Focus Friday Online Edition! We’re glad you can join us . . . wherever you are.
What is it?
Focus Friday is an opportunity for graduate writers to participate in a writing community while responsibly working from anywhere but a cramped, overcrowded office on campus. This is a chance to connect with other graduate students working on major writing projects—arguably the best people to have in your corner because they cheer you on while holding you accountable.
Every Friday this semester (excluding university-sanctioned holidays), you can write with this online writing community between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. You decide how much time you will writer for the day and then set a goal for yourself. You will have an opportunity to ask for feedback on your writing or simply share your successes and frustrations with the group. You can join every Friday or as sporadically as your schedule allows.
How does it work?
- Find a place where you will be comfortable and set yourself up with coffee, snacks, headphones. . . whatever you need. Make sure your laptop is charged or plugged in!
- Connect using Teams: Follow this link to join the Focus Friday Team on Microsoft Teams.
- Use your official MSU emailaddress to sign in and follow the prompts on the screen.
- Once you’ve accessed Teams, check in with the other writers viavideo chat at9 am, noon, and 3 pm. Check-ins are an opportunity to meet other graduate students, ask questions, and
get (or give!) advice. It’s also a time to report on the progress you’ve made. (Public
accountability. I’m telling you. It works.)
- Erin Strickland, MSU’s Graduate Program Coordinator, will be online for the check-ins to field questions, dispense invaluable writing advice, and be available to give feedback on your work.
- If you are so totally over video chats, skip the video and post your progress in the general channel.
- Write your goal for the day on the goal spreadsheet that can be found in Teams under “Files.” Why? We humans are more likely to achieve goals we’ve written down and made public. It’s a whole thing.
Ok. I did all that. Now what? Write!
- Just write as much as you can for as much time as you have dedicated to the task.
Got any tips to be productive? Yes!
- Set small goals and reward yourself when you accomplish them.
- For me this means setting a word count goal and giving myself cookies when I reach it. You may have other rewards in mind. (Healthier ones, maybe?) That’s great. You do you.
- Use the Pomodoro method to break the writing into manageable chunks.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and work (with no distractions!) for that amount of time.
- After 25 min, take a 5 min. break: coffee, food, internet, phone calls, whatever.
- Then, get back to it! 25 more minutes.
- After 4 sessions, take a 15 min.-30 min. break. Rinse and repeat as needed.
Questions? Contact MSU’s Graduate Program Coordinator:
One-on-one appointments with tutors--done online through our WC Online program or face-to-face on a limited basis in our Wilson Hall location. Graduate students are welcome to schedule an appointment with any of our tutors. Appointments are an hour long, and students can make appointments here: