Helping the Writing-Stalled Professor

Decorative: A cube with "Writer's" written on one of its faces and "Block" written on another


"Aiding the Writing-Stalled Professor" (online article) argues that “the most direct way to improve academic life for students, faculty members, and administrators is to support faculty writing … [with] books, workshops, confidential consultations, and, most important, writing groups.”

Besides 12 book recommendations, the article (and sidebar) offers “some guiding principles for creating an effective faculty writing program,” each point being elaborated further in the article:

  • “It should be run by faculty, for faculty.” 
  • “It should offer many points of entry, some anonymous.”
  • “It should occupy a dedicated space.”
  • “It should have a curated resource collection.”
  • “It should offer writing workshops …  brief, interdisciplinary, technique-oriented sessions (lasting one to two hours each), and scheduled semester by semester.” 
  • “Individual consultation should be an option.” 
  • “It should offer daylong writing retreats.” 
  • “It should facilitate faculty writing groups.”

“Whatever their duration, writing groups are an unparalleled source of faculty support so long as: (a) they are confidential, (b) they draw from proven academic-writing techniques, and (c) they respond to the changing writing needs of the participants.”

"A faculty writing program that is just starting out doesn't have to mobilize all of these elements at once."

  • “As a faculty member, you could start a writing group on your campus and then propose a more formal faculty writing program for the entire institution.”
  • “As an administrator, you could identify senior professors who are successful writers and make it possible for them to help their colleagues on this front.”
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