Writerly Wednesdays community growing

It started as a simple ‘Meet-Up’ group for creative writers in the San Francisco Bay Area about 10 years ago.

‘Shut-up and Write’ groups or Writers’ Cafes sprouted up in coffee shops, living rooms and other creative communal spaces. The concept spread across academic communities with a similar aim — to bring the ‘social’ back to the solo act of writing.

Graduate students, staff and faculty members have been showing up to write on #Writerly Wednesdays since the early weeks of the fall term. The writing sessions start with a short 20-minute presentation or facilitated discussion followed by a 1.5-hour block of quiet writing. Discussions have included strategies for creating a writing practice and identity, finding your voice, citation management tools and learning to write even when you feel like a fraud.

A collaboration of student services facilitators — Learning Services, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, Library Services, Faculty of Education and Grad Studies — originally convened last May to plan and facilitate a day-long Vitae Graduate Student Writers’ Retreat held each year at Rodman Hall. During the debrief, many graduate student participants expressed a desire to sustain a similar sense of community and to access additional writing supports throughout the academic year.

Organizers are working together to collectively develop writing programs that reflect the components of a writers’ community of practice (CoP). According to CoP scholars, a shared common interest, commitment to learning and practice are essential elements.

“We are all writers. We struggle, feel defeated, and sustained by selecting one choice word after another. It’s the love and intrigue about the writing process that this group shares,” said Karin Perry, one of the collaborators at Brock.

Dean of Grad Studies, Jens Coorssen is an advocate. He’s witnessed the development of innovative writing programs cropping up across university campuses. Coorssen said “creating an open space and community for scholarly writers to engage in discussion about the craft of writing is far reaching. The ability to communicate via writing and other media is an integral part of graduate training and for future careers.”

The next Writerly Wednesday session, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, is intended to get peoples’ pencils moving. Giulia Forsythe will facilitate visual thinking exercises (sketchnoting or doodling) and demonstrate how doodling is a form of external thought that allows you to visualize the connections you are making while thinking.

All members of the broader graduate community (grad students, faculty and staff) are invited.

Upcoming Writing Sessions, which run from noon-2 p.m. in Thistle 253:

Wednesday, Oct. 26: Sketchnoting: Using Visual Notes to Structure Your Writing: Explore non-linear methods of organizing information to record, brainstorm, plan and communicate your ideas. Giulia Forsythe, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation

Wednesday, Nov. 2: Creative Outlines: This free-flow responsive writing activity will help you 1) think about conceptualizing your ideas, 2) make your implicit ideas explicit, 3) identify any gaps in your thinking, and 4) with a strategy you can apply in your future writing. Nicola Simmons, Faculty of Education 

Wednesday, Nov. 9: Myth Busters: The Writing Edition: False beliefs or myths about writing can bog down our process. ‘Writing is hard’ and ‘waiting for inspiration’ are popular misconceptions. Together we will unpack some common myths and assumptions and consider the evidence about writing and writers. Darrin Sunstrum, Faculty of Humanities. 

Wednesday, Nov. 16: Don’t publish and perish: Learn how to evaluate a journal and decide if it’s right for you: So, you’ve finally completed your research and now you want to disseminate it via a “good” journal. The scholarly publishing system is incredibly complex, with new journals launching every day and others folding. And some journals — operated by so-called predatory publishers — are little more than scam artists: publishing with them could damage your academic career. We’ll explore some tips for evaluating the quality and credibility of journals and publishers. Elizabeth Yates, Liaison Services.

#WriterlyWednesday is a weekly gathering of writers engaged in a process of collective learning, developing and writing together. All members of the broader graduate community (grad students, faculty and staff) are invited to drop-in and take part.

 For more information please contact one of our partners:

Lianne Fisher, Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, lfisher@brocku.ca, Allyson Miller, A-Z Learning Services, amiller4@brocku.ca or Karin Perry, Faculty of Graduate Studies, kperry@brocku.ca

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