Learning as we go: Establishing a writing community
In 2011 Pat Mason and I set out to establish a TAA chapter writing community at Molloy College. Making the time to come together during a semester to share our work is an awesome task for many of us, but we try to make it interesting for our colleagues by providing writing sessions, newly published books, and refreshments. In addition, we have adopted various useful mottoes—the best being “Less surfing and more writing!”
Pat and I seek to provide opportunities to the writing group that would be the most beneficial to our members. Recently what worked for us was to offer a 50-minute workshop on “Strategies to Improve Your Writing.” We got off to a really great start with a group of faculty representing nursing, theology and communication who seemed eager to learn. The workshop was very interactive and the time was well spent.
We later asked ourselves, “what made it so successful that participants asked for more time on the evaluations?” After reflection we concluded that one of the keys was that it was a fixed amount of time (50 minutes) held in the morning before people could change their minds about attending. It also succeeded because we provided some quick and easy tips that the faculty saw as doable. Doable strategies that could be inserted immediately into their work provided the participants a glimmer of hope which is all anyone needs besides time to undertake the arduous task of writing.
Pat was reenergized by the workshop as well, noting: “I believe the conversation with the participants supported my efforts to continue writing. Reviewing the notes from TAA’s conference sessions as well as the writing books invigorated my thoughts.”
One strategy that our group found particularly helpful was the use of thesis templates to give their writing projects a jump start. We learned this tip from attending Dannelle Stevens’ session at TAA’s Albuquerque, New Mexico conference, where she provided attendees with several useful writing prompts. Stevens’ also emphasized the value of journal writing to aid the writing process, a point that is also well illustrated by Bruce Springsteen’s journal which developed into many of his well-known hits!
Sometimes we all need a little push. We were encouraged by the faculty to present again and to keep up the good work!
Alexandria Wolochuk, Ph.D., Professor of Education, Molloy College
Have you established a writing community at your institution? Share strategies that you have found particularly helpful.