Sept. 16, 2021Print | PDF
Writing anything important – whether it be a letter, an essay, a manuscript or a dissertation – is more than a project: it is a process.
To make the process a little easier for Wilfrid Laurier University graduate students, the university’s Writing Services team partnered with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to create a writing community as part of the “Writing as Process: Developing a Major Writing Project” program earlier this year.
“For many graduate students, writing is the greatest challenge of all the skills they must develop to succeed in their program,” says Brent Wolfe, acting associate-vice president and dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. “Often this is done in isolation and can be a daunting process. However, by participating in group writing sessions, students become aware that many others face similar difficulties and learning from each other can help to develop confidence and new approaches.”
“Writing in community is powerful. A bunch of people come together to write and through writing we collectively pursue academic and professional goals.”
Over the course of four weeks, participants connected online to engage in thematic writing discussions and worked during dedicated writing times to make progress on a major writing project of their choosing. Writing discussions were framed to answer common questions faced by writers: how do I start, revise, respond to feedback and become a better writer?
“The success of the program was driven by the willingness of the graduate students to engage in the workshop and share both the challenges they face and the strategies they have employed in their writing,” says Wolfe.
Facilitators James Southworth and Ada Sharpe, both writing consultants at Laurier, and Wolfe led 15 participants in the group. Writing projects ranged from PhD dissertations and master’s theses to conference papers and manuscripts for publication.
Maxxine Rattner, a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Social Work, brought a few chapters of her dissertation, as well as a manuscript, to the weekly writing group. She says the program was “powerful” and helped her find her voice.
“One of the most significant outcomes for me was learning the importance of finding my own 'voice' in scholarly writing,” says Rattner. “Writing in community is powerful. A bunch of people come together to write and through writing we collectively pursue academic and professional goals.”
“I learned that it's just about showing up to the page and trying. I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to kickstart a writing project.”
A fellow member of the writing group, Gustavo Moura, found the opportunity to gain feedback from professional staff and peers invaluable as part of his writing process. Moura is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion and Culture.
“I had the opportunity to exercise my writing while receiving guidance and feedback from the facilitators as they answered important questions through group discussions in a deep and helpful manner,” says Moura.
Both Moura and Rattner recommend the program, as well as engagement with other development opportunities offered through Writing Services at Laurier, to any graduate student.
“This program helped me realize what is most important to me in what I want to 'say' in my writing and to hold true to that,” says Rattner. “I learned that it's just about showing up to the page and trying. I highly recommend this program for anyone looking to kickstart a writing project.”
Laurier’s Writing Services team offers multi-campus graduate writing support through one-on-one appointments and writing workshops.
Graduate and postdoctoral students are also encouraged to explore the writing workshops offered as part of Laurier’s ASPIRE program.
A spring 2022 offering of “Writing as Process: Developing a Major Writing Project” is in development. Program facilitators will post details on students.wlu.ca early next year.
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