Like eating regular meals, there’s another thing you know you need to do, want to do, have to do, but can hardly find the time for: Writing.  The answer? A delicious serving of a regular writing group with protected writing time on the side. Shut Up and Write is just that: a group that meets weekly and fills up on 25 minutes writing with 5 minute chat breaks in between. Like any meal, make this meetup as fancy or casual as you like by organizing a large group or just grabbing a few select colleagues for a low-key write-in.
Hungry to write? Follow this recipe to cook up your own Shut Up and Write (SUAW) group. Don’t worry too much about the formalities if it’s just a small group, but for larger groups these tips can help keep things on course.

Nutritional Benefits of SUAW

  • Establish a well-balanced academic writing diet by sustaining a consistent routine to finish your writing project.
  • Take advantage of the focus that working away from your office or home can provide while adding steps to your Fitness tracking app.
  • Expand your academic palette aka community.

Ingredients and Preparations

You will need…

  • A place to meet.
  • A recurring day of the week.
  • A recurring time slot.
    • Aim for 2 hours minimum and up to 4 hours if possible.
  • To decide how often to meet.
    • Weekly is best, but every other week can work.
    • Consider duration, some groups run sessions leading up to important deadlines like grant submissions while others are year round.
  • A list of interested individuals to invite.
    • Number will vary depending on space constraints.
  • Incentive.
    • Peer accountability becomes an extra spur to productivity, but free coffee is also good if possible.
  • Go-bag with:

For larger groups consider…

  • An email invitation.
    • Send out at least one week in advance and reminder email 24-48 hours before meetup.
  • Table tents with instructions.
    • Just the facts with key SUAW info for newbies.
  • Room signage.
    • Directional signs can help locate meeting room.

Serving Suggestions for SUAW

Arrive a bit early to set the table. Bring your Go-Bag.

  • Place room signage and table signage if desired.
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes and get to work.
  • Gently ring the chimes when the time is up and time a 5 minutes break.
  • Using the chimes call everyone back to writing for another 25 minute session.
  • Repeat until entire meeting time is up.

This process works well for sponsored groups, less formal peer groups just get up and stretch when the phone alarm goes off.

More Writing Food for Thought

Even if the first meeting has a low attendance, keep spreading the word and keep showing up and writing. Look for others who are also working on dissertation chapters, abstracts, manuscripts or grant submissions to join.

Cooking up your own Shut Up and Write group means you are creating a time and place for yourself and others for professional writing and career development. So find a place, send those emails, and start scavenging for spare power strips. And you know what to do when you get there. Just shut up and write.

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1 Comment

I love this Aimee – so clever and funny! We do WAGs (Writing Accountability Groups) here at Hopkins (and there is a 30-minute “shut-up and write” component)! ; )
A WAG is an active writing group that meets once a week over a 10-week block and follows a strict agenda of 15 minutes of updates and goal-setting followed by 30 minutes of individual writing, and then 15 minutes of reporting and wrap-up (there is no peer review of your writing – the WAG is focused on developing a process and habit of writing). A WAG is limited to 4-8 members and you MUST commit to attending at least 7 of the 10 weekly sessions. I guarantee that if you adhere to the plan, you will achieve increased writing productivity (quantity and quality), have greater control over the writing process, experience improved goal-setting and time management, and as a bonus, you’ll establish relationships with new colleagues and friends.
WAGs youtube teaser:
WAGs for the public:

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