New Faculty Writing Groups

Decorative: "Faculty writing groups" typed on a typewriter


"New Faculty Writing Groups" (post) explains the benefits of, types of, and obstacles for writing groups --and outlines some first steps in getting started with such a group.

1. Benefits of Writing Groups

  • "[A] writing group ... help[s] ... faculty members strengthen their confidence as academic writers." 
  • "An academic career ... is a solitary and isolating experience, particularly when we are writing": "[g]roups can make the writing experience more meaningful and fruitful."

  • "[W]riting group peers can hold you accountable for your work ... [and] remind you about your progress ... motivat[ing] you to meet the goals you set for yourself."  

  • "[G]roups allow you to meet colleagues from across campus, and ... discover what these colleagues are working on. Maybe there is an opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaboration."  

2. Types of Writing Groups

  • "Writing groups can form based on broad field divisions (social sciences, hard sciences, humanities, fine arts) or by department (political science, English, chemistry, drama). "
  • "You can form groups based on any number of different factors. [Y]ou might need more than one type of group ... The more groups the merrier (and potentially, the more successful)."
  • "The groups can be as small or as large as you wish; however, smaller groups can be more focused, and therefore, can be more effective."

3. Obstacles for Writing Groups -- and Some Solutions

  • "Some of the obstacles in new faculty writing groups are ... :  (1) lack of sincerity or commitment to the group/process, (2) the inability (or unwillingness) to offer usable feedback on another’s work, and (3) scheduling."

  • "Some members ... might not be getting what they need, so they stop attending meetings and participating in reviews. In this case, restructuring the group might be beneficial."
  • "[S]cheduling can be difficult ... Doodle can help .... If face-to-face meetings are problematic, online meetings can also work."
  • "[T]he critique of another’s work is difficult ... Constructive feedback is a learned skill that requires time and trust."

4. How to Get Started

a. "[A]sk yourself some questions."

  • "What do I want from a writing group?"
  • "What do I expect from a reader of my works-in-progress?"
  • "What do I expect to contribute as a reader of others’ works-in-progress?"
  • "What are my priorities for a writing group?"
  • "What’s more important to me: professional publication, or personal satisfaction?"
  • "What kind of time-frame can I reasonably expect to maintain?"
  • "What kind of interaction with others do I want (face-to-face meetings once a month, online forums daily)?"

b. "[A]sk ... tenure-track faculty who are in your cohort to join you in a writing group."

  • "You could work through your dean."
  • "Your dean or other campus mentors could help you find facilitators for your group."
  • "You might also choose not to have an outside person in your group, as sharing responsibility among group members is more your style."
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