Overcoming Writer*s Block

Report
Starting and
Maintaining Writing
Groups
NICOLETTE HYLAN
M AT T H E W P R I C E
T H E G R A D U AT E W R I T I N G C E N T E R
[email protected]
Graduate Writing Center
 One-on-one consultations
 All types of writing
 All stages of the writing process
 To schedule, see the Center’s website:
 http://composition.la.psu.edu/composition/resources/g
raduate-writing-center
 Or go directly to the online schedule:
 https://secure.gradsch.psu.edu/wccal/studentview.cfm
Workshop Goals
 Discuss the benefits of writing groups
 Offer advice on how to start/maintain writing groups
 Give you strategies and concrete tools that will help
you make progress in/with groups
 (Tentatively) form writing groups
Benefits of Writing Groups
 Have the company and support of your peers, many
of whom are facing similar challenges
 Hold you more accountable for meeting deadlines
 Offer fresh eyes and perspectives on various aspects
of your writing/writing process
 Expand your available resources (sources, ideas,
styles of writing)
Getting Started
• There is no definitive way to start and maintain a
writing group.
• Think of it as a learning process (each meeting is a
step in the right direction).
• Start small—see what works for the group dynamic
(time, page length, location, etc).
• Assess what changes need to be made along the way
and post-semester.
Things to Think About
1.What are your goals?
2. How big should the group be? (Recommended 4-6
people to start.)
3. When can you meet? Where? How often? How long?
(More) Things to Think About
 How will you format your meetings?
 Ex.
Two members of a four member group will be
responsible for producing writing for discussion.
Writing will be emailed out 5 days before the
meeting. Each paper will be discussed for
approximately 45 minutes.
(A Few More) Things to Think About
 What rules will you follow for your meetings?
 Ex.
A writing group meets on campus at Whiskers
(Nittany Lion Inn). Members who don’t meet
deadlines are penalized $20.00 (to pay for drinks
after the meetings).
 What are your expectations in terms of
preparation? How much writing is practical?
How much feedback is reasonable?
Group Discussion
List 5-10 things that describe the ideal writing group
situation (including things we haven’t covered).
For a writing group to work successfully everyone
needs to . . .
Group Discussion
List of 5-10 things that might hinder a writing group
situation—what have been your experiences in the
past?
How might you address some of these things?
Activities For Writing Groups
1. If you haven’t written anything, discuss your prewriting activities or any obstacles that are hindering
your process.
2. Offer feedback and talk about how it has helped the
evolution of your writing.
3. Discuss future plans for the group meeting. For
example, you can choose a writing issue to discuss
together (i.e. drafting/ proof-reading, footnotes, etc.).
The Feedback Process (Writer and Editor)
1. Provide a summary and goal(s) for your writing
before the meeting.
2. Explain your biggest concern(s).
3. Start with a brief and overarching feedback list. Be
clear about what feedback would be most helpful.
Identify specific areas of concern.
4. Be realistic and understanding.
Responding Tips
• Responding to a peer’s draft can be a daunting task—
relax!
• Be generally supportive, descriptive, and specific—
start with the positives.
• Be honest as well, even if it’s difficult (questions
instead of accusations).
• Clarify issues you don’t understand—learn from your
peers.
• Ex. A GWC Session
Supportive Feedback
Negative Feedback: “I really dislike the middle
section. I have no idea what you’re going for there.”
Supportive Feedback: “I’m completely persuaded by
the first section, but I’m a bit lost in the second.
Could you say a bit more about that argument?”
Specific Feedback
Imprecise: “It’s just not working.”
Specific: “On page four, I think you are
conflating two ideas. They seem to be
nicely separated on page three—
perhaps you can clarify the difference?”
Descriptive Feedback
 “Your topic sentence doesn’t seem to work as well
here because it doesn’t align with the rest of the
paragraph.”
 Give feedback based on your reader’s intended
audience:
 “Would your audience understand this term? Does it
need clarification?”
 “Is this technical diction necessary for a conference
presentation?”
General Tips on Feedback
• Don’t get overwhelmed.
• Choose three “big” points to cover.
• Tailor your commentary to the writer’s needs as listed in their
feedback request.
• Write clearly and use recognizable marks.
• Try to learn from your peers!
Writing Group Formation
Form three groups: Hard Sciences, Social
Sciences, Humanities
• Introduce yourself to the people around you: Would
you all be interested in forming a group? Are your
interests “close” enough to one another?
• Take some time to get to know your members,
exchange information, etc. Do you know others who
might be interested?
• Set up the framework for a writing group (meeting
times, frequency of meetings, number of members,
amount of writing).
Thank you for Joining Us!
Please feel welcome to visit the Graduate Writing Center
for an individual consultation on your writing projects.
Even if you haven’t yet begun to write (and are maybe
wondering how to start) we’re happy to talk to you. To
schedule an appointment, please visit our website.

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