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Graduate Student Guides

Starting a Writing Group

Writing groups can help graduate students reduce isolation, increase motivation and accountability, and depending on the type of group, give and receive feedback. 

Be clear about the purpose and structure of your writing group. Different types include:

  • Write together groups—meet to write together, usually for a set amount of time with scheduled breaks to check in on progress
    • These can be flexible drop-in meetings, or more firmly scheduled and attended
  • Accountability groups—work separately and meet to report progress made
  • Feedback groups—meet to share work, and provide and discuss feedback

 

You can experiment with these types to create a group that works best for all its members. When creating a group, it’s important to consider:

  • Who the group is appropriate for
    • Both Master’s and PhD students, or only one or the other?
    • Students from the same or different disciplines?
    • Writers at similar or different stages of the writing process? 
  • The size of the group—consider meeting space availability, scheduling, group type, etc.
  • If there will be one group leader, or if roles will be shared
    • Who will schedule meeting times and book space if needed?
    • How will meeting information be communicated to the group?
    • Who will keep meetings on track?
  • How meetings will be structured
    • How long will you spend writing, discussing feedback, etc.? 
    • Will there be social time or breaks? 
    • How long will meetings be, and how frequently will you meet? 

 

Special considerations for feedback groups:

  • How will you schedule who gives/receives feedback—sign-up list, regular rotation? 
  • Will materials be distributed in advance or presented during the meeting?
  • What writing projects at what stages of the writing process are acceptable?
  • How much time should be spent giving feedback, and what should it focus on?

 

Improve your writing and study skills! Book an appointment with a writing advisor and/or academic coach on OSCARplus.  Questions? Email skills@mcmaster.ca

References

“Graduate student writing groups.” Student Academic Success Services, Queen’s University, https://sass.queensu.ca/graduate-student-writing-groups/

“Setting Up Your Own Writing Group.” The Writing Center, George Mason University, https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/for-graduate-students/setting-up-your-own-writing-group

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