Perhaps the most important part of writing is keeping your sanity throughout the writing process. A few ways to do this are screaming your problems into your pillow, making prank calls to that professor you hate, and openly crying in your graduate class. However, making a writing group with your colleagues to assist each other in writing is much more appropriate and constructive than is any of the previously mentioned ways to keep your sanity during the writing process. Asking your grad school friends for help is a good idea and is necessary not only to survive your thesis or dissertation but also to survive the challenge of graduate school. The fact is that when you are working toward a goal that involves so much preparation and time, you can use and often need the advice of others.

How to Create a Group

Unlike many other how-to articles you might find on this website, this article will not contain any rules for creating a writing support group. Your writing group can be whatever you want it to be. Start with the people to whom you naturally gravitate in class. This could include students who sit near you in class, students with whom you might have already done a project, or students whom you know from previous classes and who are also working toward their own dissertations or theses. Even if you might consider these people boring or annoying, you should keep in mind that they could be invaluable in terms of helping you. Besides the fellow students in your classes, you could also consider forming a writing group with other peers, teaching or lab assistants, or even professors. You probably have already talked with many of your friends and colleagues about your research, so you could talk again with those who seemed genuinely interested in your work to see if they would like to help you in your journey. Also, reach out to those whom you know are also working on their dissertations or theses. Chances are they are also having problems and would love to form a writing group. Most importantly, bribe these people! When asking someone to help you, offer to meet at Starbuck’s or their favorite restaurants, and pay for them. Never underestimate the value of a free lunch for your friends.

What to Do With Your Group

Now that you have collected a group of peers with whom you can work, you might have trouble actually focusing on work. Make sure that the environment where you are meeting is conducive to studying and concentrating. You know how you like to operate and do your most efficient work. Good places to meet might include your favorite local coffee spot, a campus library, or either yours or your group mates’ houses. You might even be able to secure an empty classroom for the same hour(s) every week if you have the right connections with professors and other graduate administrators. Present your peers with rough drafts you’ve created lately for small sections of your dissertation or thesis. Obviously, don’t forget to help your group members as well. The more help and advice that you give to the other members of your writing support group, the more help and advice that you are likely to receive in return. Brainstorm with each other to hatch good ideas about methodology and literature reviews. Find out everything about how your partners work. There could be several resources your friends know about that could be invaluable for you while you are writing your thesis or dissertation.


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